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Live: Next time want to play for all Kashmiris for free, says Zubin Mehta

8.12 pm: Next time want to play for all Kashmiris for free, says Zubin Mehta

Zubin Mehta after his concert said that he would like to play in a stadium in Kashmir.

Obviously aware that he was performing before a an invited audience of about 1,500 people, the 77-year-old musician said, "Because, we want to do good. And, I promise next time, let's do that concert 'sabke, sab Kashmiris mufat' (free) in a stadium. Everybody should come. We don't want only select few," he said.

Holding his baton, the Mumbai-born opera music conductor greeted the crowd with folded hands and started his speech in Hindi by expressing his extreme delight to be present on the occasion, hosted by the German Embassy at the historic 17th century 17th century gardens here.

"'Hum bahut khush hain, bahut khush hain'(I am very happy)...and the wonderful soloists who will perform for you this evening, they are those whom we have heard inadvertently".

Mehta said it was something "I have waited and dreamt of this moment...practically all my life. And, every person on this subcontinent will agree with that this is where it (concert) should be...

"The moment the music starts, a very positive wave goes across this stage to all of Kashmir, to all our friends, to all our critics, and god bless them all, thank you," he said in his address at the concert.

PTI

7.36 pm: One injured after CRPF fires at vehicle

A civilian was injured when security forces deployed for the Zubin Mehta concert opened fire at a vehicle around 10 kilometres from the concert venue, when it jumped a checkpost

The firing occurred two kilometers away from the Haqeeqat-E-Kashmir
(Reality of Kashmir) venue, were the civil society of Kashmir has
organized a parallel event against the Zubin Mehta concert in
Srinagar.

The vehicle, according to eyewitnesses, had four people
inside it when it was fired upon, injuring one.

5.11 pm: Zubin Mehta's concert begins in Srinagar

Despite threats from separatist organisations, world-renowned conductor Zubin Mehta's concert Ehsaas-e-Kashmir has begun in Srinagar's Shalimar Garden.

It is a 90-minute concert.

4.56 pm: Grenade blast in Pulwama injures 10

A grenade blast in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir has injured at least 10 people.

Reports suggest that five policemen, two CRPF personnel and a woman were injured when unidentified militants hurled a grenade at them.

2:50 pm: Chairman of Hurriyat conference visits parallel concert

The Chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, attended the Haqeeqat-e- Kashmir concert and said that he had come to express solidarity with the “cause for which the event is being organized.”

His appearance at the parallel concert surprised many in the park as people were stopped from being entering the venue.

“The message is clear from Kashmir that it is an active conflict,” he told reporters inside the municipal park in Srinagar.

When told of Zubin Mehta’s remarks that “Kashmir chose him for the visit”, Mirwaiz said the renowned conductor must have had a divine revelation to feel that way.

2:40 pm: CRPF says persons killed in Shopian had fired at their base

A brief exchange of gunfire left three terrorists dead in Shopian district of Kashmir and many other injured, CRPF officials have told Firstpost's Sameer Yasir.

IG CRPF Nalin Prabhat told Firstpost that 14 battalion headquarter of CRPF in Shopian came under heavy gunfire from the suspects.

The CRPF official said that three terrorists were riding on a motorcycle.

One of the injured civilians injured in the attack Auqib Ahmed, 23, was referred to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital with gunshot injuries.

“The incident took place around an hour ago. In the brief exchange of gunfire, three terrorists were killed,” he said.

He said a huge cache of arms and explosives were recovered from them and the police was trying to ascertain their identity.

The incident comes even as security agencies are on a high alert ahead of the Zubin Mehta concert who will be performing with a group of 100 musicians of Bavarian State Orchestra at Shalimar Garden.

1:50 pm: CRPF camp in Shopian district attacked, two civilians injured

Two civilians were injured in a militant attack on a CRPF camp in Gangren area of Shopian in Kashmir.

A police spokesperson in Srinagar said that militants attacked a CRPF camp situated in Gangren. Further details are awaited, reports Sameer Yasir from Srinagar.

CNN-IBN quoted the CRPF as saying that two militants have been killed and one injured.

Local residents are staging a protest in the area and there in tension in the area, the channel reported.

8: 30 am: High security in Srinagar ahead of the concert

As Firstpost's Sameer Yasir had reported yesterday, there is very high security in Srinagar and the Kashmir valley to prepare for the Zubin Mehta concert today which has been widely criticised by separatist groups.

The separatists have called for a day-long bandh to protest against the concert which will take place only in the evening. So far, there's been no other form of protest against the concert today.

Mehta's concert has faced strong opposition from various groups. Reuters

Mehta's concert has faced strong opposition from various groups. Reuters

To keep visitors safe, the police in Kashmir have sealed all roads leading to the venue and the hotels where members of the Bavarian State Orchestra and the diplomats invited for the concert will be staying.  The 14-km route from the city to the Mughal garden also has a large number of security personnel present.

The Dal Lake is being monitored continuously by security forces and no civilian movement is being allowed inside the lake anywhere in the radius of three km from the bank where the garden is located, a police official told Firstpost.

Only guests with special passes will be able to enter the area, after being frisked and scanned by metal detectors.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah while speaking to CNN-IBN yesterday had denied that the concert would affect peace in the state in any way and said some separatist groups were creating unnecessary controversy over the event.

"I don’t fear any law and order problems arising out of the Zubin Mehta concert," Abdullah said in an interview to the channel.

When he was asked how he would silence the separatists who have been demanding to cancel the concert, he said, “The Zubin Mehta concert is on. Isn’t that enough to silence separatists?”

He also said that the average Kashmiri was not concerned about the concert and that no politics was attached to it.

Mehta, however, has chosen to stay out of making any comment and has said he will let the music do the talking.

"I didn't choose Kashmir, it chose me," Mehta told reporters here on Friday.

"I hope to have the blessings of the people as music is the only language I know and hope to spread the message of peace with this performance," he said.

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