Security tightened in Kashmir ahead of Zubin Mehta concert
Routes to Shalimar Bagh sealed, people being frisked, guests with special passes will have to report three hours in advance at university lawns.
Across the Kashmir valley, security has been tightened ahead of Saturday’s scheduled concert by the Bavarian State Orchestra and renowned Indian-born conductor Zubin Mehta at the Shalimar Garden in Srinagar. Security forces are checking every vehicle entering Srinagar city and are also carrying out surprise frisking of people at different places.
Separatist hardliners including the Hurriyat Conference have opposed the concert. Three militant organisations have issued a threat letter too.
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 is witnessing tight security too.
The main aim of the concert, according to organizers, is to "reach the hearts of the Kashmiris with a message of hope and encouragement".
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.
“This is being done to provide adequate security measures for the concert," Inspector General of Police A G Mir Said. Only guests with special passes will be able to enter the area, after being frisked and scanned by metal detectors.
“There are almost 1,700-2,000 guests including ambassadors of European countries, central ministers, bureaucrats Industrialists, sports and Bollywood stars, who have arrived in the city for the concert. It is the biggest security exercise for us in Kashmir after a long time," said another senior police official who declined to be named.
But a large number of civil society members and separatist leaders believe the concert revolves around manipulating perceptions to give false impressions.
A group of civil society has even decided to conduct a parallel concert (Reality of Kashmir) on the same day.
“Germany must accept the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir and recognise the pain and legitimate political and legal struggle of its people,” the group said.
Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani sees the event as an attempt to give legitimacy to “Indian rule” in Kashmir. The octogenarian has called for peaceful protests on Friday and a shutdown against it on Saturday.
All the special invitees in the state, which include ministers and officials of the state government have been asked to report at the University of Kashmir lawns, three hours ahead of the event, from where they will be driven in secure vehicles to the venue by the police.
The 90 minute concert by Bavarian State Orchestra will be broadcast live by television channels in India and fifty European countries.
The show will begin with a Kashmiri composition by Kashmiri composer Pt Bajan Sopori and his son, Abhay Rustum Sopori, who have worked on the piece with local Kashmiri artistes.
Officials said the fire started around 4.15 pm due to a short circuit and was completely controlled by 5 pm
At least three others, including a policeman, were injured in the attack. Security forces have cordoned off the area and further details are awaited, officials said.
A woman — whose identity is being ascertained — also sustained injuries in the firing by militants, officials said