Opinion

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.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Get ready for an 80-hour shopping marathon

Here are some tips that’ll help you take the lead.

Starting 16th July at 4:00pm, Flipkart will be hosting its Big Shopping Days sale over 3 days (till 19th July). This mega online shopping event is just what a sale should be, promising not just the best discounts but also buying options such as no cost EMIs, buyback guarantee and product exchanges. A shopping festival this big, packed with deals that you can’t get yourself to refuse, can get overwhelming. So don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why Big Shopping Days is the only sale you need, with these helpful hints and highlights.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt (64 GB)

A host of entertainment options, latest security features and a 13 MP rear camera that has mastered light come packed in sleek metal unibody. The sale offers an almost 40% discount on the price. Moreover, there is a buyback guarantee which is part of the deal.

Original price: Rs. 17,900

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Samsung 32 inches HD Ready LED TV

Another blockbuster deal in the sale catalogue is this audio and visual delight. Apart from a discount of 41%, the deal promises no-cost EMIs up to 12 months.

Original price: Rs. 28,890

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Intel Core I3 equipped laptops

These laptops will make a thoughtful college send-off gift or any gift for that matter. Since the festive season is around the corner, you might want to make use of this sale to bring your A-game to family festivities.

Original price: Rs. 25,590

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 21,900

Fashion

If you’ve been planning a mid-year wardrobe refresh, Flipkart’s got you covered. The Big Shopping Days offer 50% to 80% discount on men’s clothing. You can pick from a host of top brands including Adidas and Wrangler.

With more sale hours, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale ensures we can spend more time perusing and purchasing these deals. Apart from the above-mentioned products, you can expect up to 80% discount across categories including mobiles, appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty, home and furniture.

Features like blockbuster deals that are refreshed every 8 hours along with a price crash, rush hour deals from 4-6 PM on the starting day and first-time product discounts makes this a shopping experience that will have you exclaiming “Sale ho to aisi! (warna na ho)”

Set your reminders and mark your calendar, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days starts 16th July, 4 PM and end on 19th July. To participate in 80 hours of shopping madness, click here.

Play

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