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Geelani calls for bandh to protest Zubin Mehta's concert

Author: M Saleem Pandit
Publication: The Times of India
Date: September 3, 2013
URL: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-09-03/india/41725116_1_geelani-disputed-nature-beautiful-prison

Separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Monday called for a bandh to protest musician Zubin Mehta's concert in Srinagar five days later, saying these events "can be used to change Kashmir's disputed nature''.

 The German embassy in India is organizing the event with the government's help as part of its broader engagement.

 "The government seems adamant on organizing the show. We appeal the people of Kashmir to hold protest demonstrations after Friday prayers and observe a complete shut down on Saturday," Geelani told reporters.

He said they were not against Mehta or Germany. "But such musical programmes do not warrant to be held at a place where human rights violations are taking place...,'' he said. "Any sort of international activity, be it political, diplomatic, cultural or sports, will have an adverse impact on the disputed nature of J&K.''

 Geelani asked Germany to play "a responsible role and keep away from any such move that affects the noble cause of people in Kashmir''. He cited the West Indies-India cricket match in 1983 and said they had opposed it due the disputed nature of J&K''. Geelani said they have similar reservations with regard to Mehta's concert.

 The separatist reminded German ambassador Michel Stenier about the comments of a European Union delegation, which visited Kashmir in 2004.

 "It had described the situation as grim and declared Kashmir a 'beautiful prison' and supported the just cause of Kashmiris,'' he said. "It is not suitable for a responsible member of European Union to organize a cultural programme for a selected gathering for their entertainment, ignoring the sufferings of inmates of this beautiful jail.''

 Earlier, separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had opposed the event along with a civil society group citing Kashmir's "disputed nature''.

 The Mirwaiz said crores to be spent on the event should instead be utilized for healthcare and education in Kashmir.

 The organizers have made it clear the event would go ahead as per schedule. They have made elaborate arrangements for the concert at Srinagar's Shalimar garden, which has been refurbished.

 Over 1,500 guests have been invited for the programme to be telecasted across the world. The J&K government has appointed two high level committees to oversee the arrangements for the concert.

 The state government has taken flak for making alterations to the Mughal heritage garden for the event.

Emperor Jehangir had got the garden constructed for his queen, Noor Jehan, making use of paper mache for its walls, which have been painted white for the concert.
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