Will Return To Valley If Kashmir Wants Me, Zubin Mehta Says

Will Return To Valley If Kashmir Wants Me, Zubin Mehta Says

8 September 2013
Times of India
M. Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: Maestro Zubin Mehta had a friendly parting shot for Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani who called for a strike on the day he performed at Shalimar Bagh, saying, if Kashmir wants his music, he will return to the valley. 'If Kashmir wants me again, I will come back,' the orchestra conductor said. Then, he added in his pidgin Hindi, 'Geelani sahib, hum toh aapka dost hoon (I am your friend). You don't believe it! I wish all of our opposition would have come and enjoyed the music.' Mehta said Ehsaas-e-Kashmir went beyond his expectations. 'It was much more (than expected). It turned out to be an occasion which we'll be proud of.' Speaking about his Israeli connection, Mehta said, 'I'm very much tied to the state of Israel but I am against their policy of settlements in Palestine. I think some of them are right-wing and I say it openly in Israel. I also know more than half of Israelis want a Palestinian state. But there are 'gadbadwallas' (troublemakers) even there.' On his citizenship, he said his first identity was as an Indian. 'Absolutely! I should have brought my passport and showed it, once for all. There are people who think I am Israeli. That's rubbish.' The 77-year-old master said he had heard people talking against him and his concert on a TV discussion on Friday evening, a day ahead of the musical concert at Shalimar Bagh. He took it to heart. 'I heard a discussion on TV in which 12 people participated. While three favoured my concert, the rest were opposing it. I wasn't still at all apprehensive about performing in Kashmir ... but I'd like to have another programme here in the open stadium where every Kashmiri, irrespective of political ideology, would come and participate,' the Mumbai-born maestro said. 'Let's have another way, a spiritual way, and I think on Saturday there was a beginning of some process of healing because Hindus and Muslims were sitting together in complete harmony. Healing and harmony are the two most important factors we are striving for,' he added. However, Mehta said, he did not much wish to mix with politicians. 'They can make their treaties and paper trails can go on. Citizens of India, Pakistan and Kashmir need to come together and make music,' he said. While favouring Article 370 of the Indian constitution that restricts sale of land to non-Kashmiris in J&K, Mehta said, in a lighter vein, 'If India had allowed settlements here since 1947, I would have also come here to construct a house on the hill here. But it would have ruined this place!'