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Zubin Mehta, Unfazed by Kashmir's Threats, Says Bavarian State Orchestra Concert in India Will Happen

By Louise Burton on Sep 06, 2013 05:48 PM EDT

Zubin Mehta's concert for peace will go ahead in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir on Saturday, despite protest from Kashmiri separatists and reports that guerrilla groups in the region have threatened foreign tourists.

Mehta will lead the Bavarian State Orchestra in a concert dubbed "Ehsas-e-Kashmir" or "The Feel of Kashmir"--intended as a concert for peace in the region, which has seen conflict between Kashmiri separatist groups and Indian security forces.

Zeenews India reports that Mehta is not fazed by the threats and says that the concert will go ahead as planned.

"Let the music speak for itself. It will happen, and it will be broadcasted across 24 European countries. You'll see it on Doordarshan," Mehta told the leading Indian English newspaper.

Mehta, 77, has conducted many of the world's top orchestras and has held peace concerts in other cities, including Sarajevo and Tel Aviv. He was born in Bombay, now Mumbai, India.

According to recent reporting, however, many Kashmiri separatists are angry about the cost associated with the concert and feel that ordinary Kashmiris are being excluded from the high-profile event.

Many also see the concert as giving further legitimacy to Indian rule in the region.

And some local groups are organizing their own protest concert in response to the event, called "Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir" or "The Truth About Kashmir."

Time magazine reports that a protest song by Bengali singer-songwriter Kabir Suman has become popular in the region. Its lyrics are as follows: "Dear Zubin Mehta, will your music weep for the martyrs...70,000 Kashmiris killed...will your music bring back the thousands disappeared in the shadows of hills?"

Kabir Suman is scheduled to perform the song at "Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir" on Saturday.

Mehta's concert will be held outdoors at the Shalimar Garden, a Mughal-era garden situated amid Himalayan peaks in Kashmir. 1,500 guests, including ministers and diplomats, are expected to attend.

Music by Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky is on the program, as well as a work to be performed in collaboration with Kashmiri musicians.

Security forces in Kashmir are heightening the security at the Shalimar Garden and surrounding area in preparation for the event.

Further news about the controversy surrounding this concert can be seen on Indian television news station NewsX.

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TagsZubin Mehta, Bavarian State Orchestra, Kashmir, India, Ehsas-e-Kashmir, The Feel of Kashmir, Doordarshan, Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir, The Truth About Kashmir, Kabir Suman, Shalimar Garden

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