Hillarious seems to be the only word with which to describe the cacophony protesting the Zubin Mehta concert, which is scheduled in a couple of days at the Shalimar Gardens. There are six articles in Greater Kashmir today covering the event and four in Hindustan Times. All of them make Kashmiri Separatism look like a municipal struggle.
People are concerned about the garden’s upkeep, security arrangements and inability to get passes for an invitation only event. Articles carry quotes from Srinagar residents on how this event should not happen since it undermines the Separatist cause or how the Separatist cause is too big to be undermined by the event. Last I heard, the separatists claim the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir and it would be nice to also hear views of villagers in the valley or a nomad in the mountains or an urban representative from Jammu or Leh on their political impressions of a music concert. It would not be a bad idea to ask a Delhite inconvenienced every day by VVIP movements on why newspapers don’t use the word ‘oppressed’ to describe this grave act by the state.
The Separatists have also decided to organise their own ‘counter concert’ called Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir (as opposed to Zubin’s Ehsaas-e-Kashmir). This fantastic act of protest has taken their movement from municipal to schoolboy territory. The Hurriyat leader SAS ‘Shut Down’ Geelani has, true to his name, called for a shut down on the day of the concert. The imagination of the Separatists is limited to opposing, shutting things down, throwing stones, banning music, voting and living a normal life. By trying to turn a music concert into a political protest, they have created a meaningless symbolism that only exposes the hollow dream they promise. Those dreams are only expressed in the negative because getting close to the reality of those dreams will scare the followers from the promised land.
It would be nice for Zubin Mehta to play a requiem for these hollow dreams. But I think he only has great music on his mind.