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Zubin Mehta’s concert faces threats
Security upped in Kashmir; Forces on high alert over protests, strike call
SRINAGAR, Sep 5: With only two days remaining for the Zubin Mehta’s musical concert at Shalimar Garden here, security arrangements were further tightened here and other parts of Kashmir today.

Three lesser known militant groups have threatened to target the show. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman Hurriyat Conference (G), has called for valley wide protests against the concert after Friday prayers tomorrow. He has also called for a strike on September 7. The strike has been among others supported by United Jehad Council and Dukhtaran-e-Milat.

The state government this evening reviewed the latest situation in Kashmir. Reports said police, security forces and civil administration have started monitoring the situation round the clock. Additional deployment of police and paramilitary forces was made today in sensitive areas of the city. Additional check points were set up, where the vehicles were being stopped and searched. Drivers and passengers were being frisking and their identity cards checks.

Surprise crackdown for brief period was also conducted at several places in the city including Lal Chowk. During crackdown the people were frisked and their identity cards checked.

Shalimar Garden has been completed sealed. It has been virtually taken over by police and security forces. The garden is out of bound for locals. Security personnel have been deployed in strength on the hills around the garden. Police and CRPF personnel have taken over positions in the residential houses around Shalimar Garden. Sharp shooters have been also positioned there. Helicopters belonging to various security agencies kept on hovering over the garden throughout the day.

Police and security forces have been put on an extra high alert because of the latest militant threat and protest call. Senior police and security authorities said they are closely watching the situation and if the need arises, restrictions can be imposed from tomorrow also. “We will review the situation and if there is any apprehension of any untoward incident, necessary security measures including imposing restrictions will be taken. Much will depend as to how the situation will unfold tomorrow,” said a senior officer.

He added that more deployment of police and paramilitary forces will be made tomorrow in Srinagar city.

Yesterday, a national news agency received a joint statement from three militant organisations, threatening to target the show. The organisations, Al Nasireen, Shohada brigade and Farzandan-e-Millat, asked people to stay away from the concert or face dire consequences. The statement also asked the German embassy to cancel the concert.

“We will not allow the orchestra of Zubin Mehta to perform in Shalimar Garden. If the German Ambassador remains adamant on holding the event, we will target foreign tourists for which the diplomat shall be responsible,” Sami-ul-Haq, a spokesman of the militant groups said.

Inspector-General of police A G Mir said security forces were trying to find out if the threat “is for real or some kind of mischief”.

“But adequate security measures are in place for the concert,” he added.

The concert, the first of its kind in Kashmir, is expected to attract an audience of 1,500 guests including government ministers and diplomats.

The event has been organized by Germany's ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, who told a news conference that the aim of the concert was to “reach the hearts of the Kashmiris with a message of hope and encouragement”.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Salman Bashir, is among the top dignitaries who have been invited by German Embassy in New Delhi to attend Zubin Mehta music concert in Srinagar on Saturday.

The concert, which has become an eyesore for Kashmir’s pro-freedom leadership and a civil society group, will be attended by nearly 1500 dignitaries, out of whom 750 will be invited by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

German embassy has sent invitations to Chinese ambassador and ambassadors of European Union countries to India to attend Ehsaas-e-Kashmir (Feel of Kashmir) concert which has been sponsored by German Embassy along with union tourism ministry’s ‘Incredible India’ campaign.

The embassy has also been extended invitation to Bollywood actor Amitabh Bacchan, Mumbai socialite Shabana Azmi, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, business tycoon Anil Ambani and his brother Mukesh Ambani among others.

Reports said chief minister Omar Abdullah has sent invitations to 35 people on his behalf which include a Congress leader and a Delhi based journalist. Invitations have also been sent to all the ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, top police officials, journalists, few prominent singers and artists, a senior tourism official.

The concert will be held in Shalimar Mughal Garden on the banks of Dal Lake. The state government has spent nearly Rs 3.5 crore on the renovations of the garden in the last three months to make it fit for hosting the concert.
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News Updated at : Thursday, September 5, 2013
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