Organizing Committee, Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir
Press release, 5 September 2013
On 22 August 2013, the German Embassy, New Delhi, issued a press release that Zubin Mehta would be conducting an orchestra on 7 September 2013, at the Mughal Garden, Shalimar Bagh, in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. On 26 August 2013, civil society members of Jammu and Kashmir – from lawyers and businessmen to poets and scholars – registered a strong protest against the proposed concert and concerns were communicated to the German Embassy and the people of Germany – from political representatives to artists and activists.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir take immense pride in our rich history of resisting oppression. We also have historically cultivated a sublime tradition in, and love for, music. Music – which appeals to the higher values of love, justice, dignity, and peace; which genuinely acknowledges the long-suffering, yet bravely resisting, Kashmiris; and which is performed for the actual public – is wholeheartedly welcome.
However, legitimizing an occupation via a musical concert is completely unacceptable. Art as propaganda, as abundantly documented in history, is put to horrific use across the world. Art as propaganda in Jammu and Kashmir is unacceptable. The Zubin Mehta concert is organized and controlled by Government of India and the German Embassy, with extensive corporate sponsorship. It serves to build on the State narrative that seeks to dilute the reality of Jammu and Kashmir and peoples’ aspirations. It seeks to promote an image of a “peaceful” and “normal” Jammu and Kashmir. The pain, suffering, courage and bravery of the resistance will find no place in this concert. Indian State operations that seek to support the occupation must be resisted. To build this Statist narrative of Jammu and Kashmir, an estimated Rs.100 crores [INR 10 billion or USD 16 million] is reported to being spent, and invitations have been sent to corporate India (Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis, Bajajs, CII, FICCI..), the film world (Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Katrina Kaif…) and sportsmen (Sachin Tendulkar, Boris Becker…). It is most condemnable that the Government of Germany has chosen to be party to the Indian States’ continued political machinations in Jammu and Kashmir. So far Indian army and various Indian institutions have been organizing psychological operations which are termed by Indian military as Sadbhavana Operation. We protest German government’s joining the efforts of Indian army. It appears an attempt by the Indian State to outsource its military psychological operations to the international community.
Further, the oppressive State apparatus has swung into action. The people of Shalimar, and indeed Srinagar, are under surveillance, and the invitees to the Zubin Mehta concert are verified by the intelligence agencies. Certain Kashmiri civilians have been blacklisted from attending the concert. “Anti-national” elements are not welcome to the concert. A proposal to invite 230 Kashmiri students has also been turned down by the State. The occupation will therefore be amply reflected in the demographics of the audience of the proposed concert. Based on available information, it appears that of a total of 758 invitees, only 102 are supposedly unaffiliated civilians of Jammu and Kashmir with no perceptible State connection. The German Embassy guest list runs into more than 1100 and includes only around 100 supposedly unaffiliated civilians of Jammu and Kashmir. The German Ambassador is misleading the people by calling it an event for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It is a deeply political event for a political purpose.
On 7 September 2013, “Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir”, a cultural and aesthetic tribute to the resilience and struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir will be held at the Municipal Park (near General Post Office), Srinagar, and will begin at noon. This event is organized by various civil society groups and individuals. The event will include musical performances, poetry recitals, photography exhibits and other performance art, and is open to the public. This event will showcase the reality of Jammu and Kashmir, to mark the terrors of the military occupation and to celebrate the resilience of Kashmiris. This event is also financially and morally responsible, as only Rs. 50,000 [USD 766.4 only], all from private donations from the organizing committee itself, will be spent on the entire event. Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir is both an act of resistance and celebration. The German Ambassador’s interest, and possible attendance at the event, for which he has been invited, does not alter the protest in anyway.
We appeal all sections of Kashmiri society to join the Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir event to express their solidarity with the resilience and suffering of people of Jammu and Kashmir.