View from Kashmir Observer: What empty seats at Adnan Sami’s gig say about the situation in Kashmir

Most of the audience comprised the political and bureaucratic elite and security personnel.

When the sound of singer-composer Adnan Sami’s piano wafted across the lawns of the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre in Srinagar on Saturday, the rows of empty seats seemed to mock the music. There were very few ordinary people in the audience, speaking of the elitist nature of the event. Most of the audience comprised the political and bureaucratic elite and security personnel. So, in a sense, the purpose of holding the event in Srinagar was served in breach.

In hindsight, it appears the government did not want the common people to attend the show, lest it result in protests against the event and in favour of Kashmir’s azadi. In an unprecedented measure, the government barred all transport on the Boulevard and made elaborate traffic arrangements to divert traffic from roads close to the venue. A press release to this effect was advertised in newspapers.

According to a government handout, around 3,000 guests – including “children, media persons and officers” – were expected to attend the concert. The deputy commissioner of Srinagar supervised the event. He and the tourism director jointly issued “colour coded passes for one person on non-transferable basis” and set up a joint control room of all concerned departments at the venue. But as the composition of the audience underlined, the common people had been deliberately kept away.

No trouble

But unlike the concert of Pakistani rock band Junoon in May 2008, which was opposed by Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, or that of conductor Zubin Mehta in 2013 or even the literary festival in 2011 that faced a severe backlash from civil society, no political or social group took exception to Sami’s event. For the state and the Central government, the concert – which came in the wake of another show by Kashmiri singer Abha Hanjura – was an attempt at sending across a message of normalcy about Kashmir to boost drastically reduced tourism inflow.

Sami’s concert acquired some political overtones that were not lost on Kashmir. As he sang his chartbusting songs on the banks of the Dal Lake to the applause of the audience, his background as a former Pakistani musician who voluntarily renounced the country’s citizenship to become an Indian citizen was important in a place rife with pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan sentiment.

However, this implicit political message did not seem to matter much. When the singer emerged on the stage, the crowd broke into spontaneous applause. When he sang famous songs such as Teray bina jiya jay na and Dil keh raha hai dilbar, the audience sang along. Still, the excitement was muted compared to Sami’s concerts elsewhere. And one did not need to look far for the reason.

The empty seats and the general indifference of the people towards the concert reflected a Kashmir that is far from normal. While concerts like the one by Sami send a deceptively positive message to the rest of the country and the world about Kashmir, they do little to ameliorate the depressing situation in the state. More so, when people are deliberately left out of the events.

This article first appeared on Kashmir Observer.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Some of the most significant innovations in automotive history made their debut in this iconic automobile

The latest version features India's first BS VI norms-compliant engine and a host of 'intelligent' features.

The S-Class, also known as Sonderklasse or special class, represents Mercedes Benz’ top-of-the-line sedan line up. Over the decades, this line of luxury vehicles has brought significant automotive technologies to the mainstream, with several firsts to its credit and has often been called the best car in the world. It’s in the S-Class that the first electronic ESP and ABS anti-lock braking system made their debut in the 20th century.

Twenty first-century driver assistance technologies which predict driver-behaviour and the vehicle’s course in order to take preventive safety measures are also now a staple of the S-Class. In the latest 2018 S-Class, the S 350 d, a 360-degree network of cameras, radars and other sensors communicate with each other for an ‘intelligent’ driving experience.

The new S-Class systems are built on Mercedes Benz’s cutting-edge radar-based driving assistance features, and also make use of map and navigation data to calculate driving behaviour. In cities and on other crowded roads, the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC helps maintain the distance between car and the vehicle in front during speeds of up to 210 kmph. In the same speed range, Active Steering Assist helps the driver stay in the centre of the lane on stretches of straight road and on slight bends. Blind Spot Assist, meanwhile, makes up for human limitations by indicating vehicles present in the blind spot during a lane change. The new S-Class also communicates with other cars equipped with the Car-to-X communication system about dicey road conditions and low visibility due to fog, rain, accidents etc. en route.

The new S-Class can even automatically engage the emergency system when the driver is unable to raise an alarm. Active Emergency Stop Assist brings the car to a stop if it detects sustained periods of inactivity from the driver when Active Steering Assist is switched on. If the driver doesn’t respond to repeated visual and audible prompts, it automatically activates the emergency call system and unlocks the car to provide access to first responders.

The new Mercedes-Benz S 350 d in India features another notable innovation – the country’s first BS VI norms-compliant car engine, in accordance with government regulations to control vehicular pollution. Debuting two years before the BS VI deadline of 2020, the S 350 d engine also remains compatible with the current BS IV fuels.

The S 350 d is an intelligent car made in India, for Indian roads - in the Mercedes Benz S-Class tradition. See the video below to know what drives the S-Class series by Mercedes Benz.

To know more about the 2018 S-Class, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mercedes Benz and not by the Scroll editorial team.