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JEHANGIR ALI | 24 SEPTEMBER, 2017

Music to Douse Distress? JK Govt Prepares for Adnan Sami Concert

JEHANGIR ALI


SRINAGAR: To repair the image of conflict-wracked Kashmir Valley on the tourism map, the Jammu and Kashmir government is organising a musical concert by Adnan Sami on the banks of Dal Lake in capital Srinagar next month.

Sources said a meeting was held at the civil secretariat here on Saturdayto review arrangements for the October 7 concert which will be held at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre in Srinagar.

A government officer said the concert is likely to attract 3000 plus audience with the J&K’s Department of Tourism organising the event to promote Kashmir as a “safe tourist destination”.

“We are confident that the concert will be a huge success and it will put Kashmir on the must-visit destinations for tourists across the globe,” the officer said.

Sami’s concert will be second after a Kashmiri Pandit girl, Aabha Hanjura, performed on the banks of Dal Lake during a musical show 'Saaz-e-Kashmir' on September 17. The event, which was attended by top government ministers and officers, became a huge hit.

Adnan Sami, who got Indian citizenship on January 1, 2016, courted controversy last year for congratulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Army on carrying out the so-called surgical strikes across the Line of Control.

Sami was trolled by Pakistanis, from where he hails, on social media over the issue but he has made no qualms about his association with the right-wing politicians, including members of the ruling party.

Recently, photos of kids of Sami, a prominent musician and vocalist who was described by a US magazine as the “fastest keyboard player in the world”, with union minister Smriti Irani went viral.

The October 7 concert in Srinagar is likely to hog headlines and generate debates on social media in coming days in the Valley where situation has slowly limped back to normalcy after last year’s civilian uprising left a trail of death and destruction.

Music is ingrained in Kashmiri culture and Sufi interpretation of Islam practised by the majority of Kashmiris. Many people consider weddings as incomplete without ‘gyawun’ and ‘wanwun’. During harvest season, workers, including women, sing songs of joy and hope in tandem while harvesting the crops.

However, recent geo-political changes and the hardline interpretation of The Holy Qur’an, allegedly by vested interests who want to divide Kashmiri society, has caused sharp divisions between various sects.

Musical events, especially those organised by the state government to promote Jammu and Kashmir as “tourist destination”, are largely interpreted in political language and seen by locals as a “mask” to cover up the harsh realities of life in the heavily militarised Kashmir.

Bavarian State Orchestra and renowned conductor Zubin Mehta performed at the Ehasas-e-Kashmir concert at Shalimar Garden on the outskirts of Srinagar on September 7 in 2013, sparking a huge controversy.

The badly organised event was promoted by Germany’s ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, with the aim of reaching “the hearts of the Kashmiris with a message of hope and encouragement”.

“It (Adnan Sami concert) doesn’t change the reality of Kashmir,” a senior officer of the Tourism Department said.

“Music has been part of our culture. Due to negative publicity by Indian media, tourists stay away from Kashmir which badly impacts our economy. The concert will send out a message that Kashmir is as safe for tourists as any other place in the world,” he added.

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