Chairs lie empty as only invitees allowed to sit; government order, though hurriedly cancelled, gets officials from other districts to attend
Srinagar: High security and low attendance marked the concert of Pakistani-turned-Indian singer and composer Adnan Sami at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) on Saturday evening. The concert was organised by the Department of Tourism, and only invited people were allowed in. The audience mostly comprised of bureaucrats and their families.
The number of expected guests was 3,000, but dozens of columns of chairs remained unoccupied during the concert that was broadcast live and officially started at 5 PM in the lawns of SKICC, with high-end lighting decorations and a mega stage faced by thousands of chairs.
Titled Rhythm in Paradise, the event saw no musical engagements for the first one-and-a-half hour. Then it began with Kashmiri artists who presented a fusion of Lal Ded’s Vakhs, Shruk of Sheikh-Ul-Alam, and other Sufi lyrics.
After this, Adnan Sami thanked Srinagar for welcoming him and then presented his fusion performance.
“I have deep-hearted connection with Kashmir,” Sami said. “Besides the reason that my mother is from Jammu, I have learned piano from the santoor (Kashmiri musical instrument).”
Only those who had received invitation from the Department of Tourism were allowed to sit on the chairs.
Though the chief minister and most of the ministers were not present at the event, MoS Home Kiren Rijiju was chief guest at the event.
All the top bureaucrats and police officials were present at the event.
“Most of the bureaucrats and officers brought their families, too,” said an official.
Journalists, bank employees, officials from different districts, and workers of the ruling political parties, PDP and BJP, were present at the event.
“We were told to attend this function. Though there was no order from the government, but skipping would have made it a headache for us,” said a senior official from another district who was present with his family.
Students of some schools of Srinagar were also invited to the event.
“Our teachers told us that we have to go for this event. We were brought in a bus here,” said Mohammad Afraz, Class 11 student at Government Higher Secondary School, Nigeen.
“It is the first time that I have attended a musical concert and I enjoyed it. But now it is already eight o’ clock and I am shivering with cold,” said Afraz, who was wearing a half-sleeve shirt.
Tea and kehwa stalls were installed at the venue and people were being served on their chairs.
On Friday evening, the General Administration Department (GAD) had issued an order directing top officials in the civil secretariat to be present at the event.
The order was issued for about a hundred officials, mostly from the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS).
“… officers are hereby appointed as Liaison Officers for the dignitaries including VVIPs/VIPs, in connection with the Musical Concert by Adnan Sami on 7th of October, 2017 at SKICC,” Order No.1277-GAD read.
Minutes later, the GAD issued another order, cancelling the previous one.
“In continuation of Government order no. 1277-GAD of 2017 dated 06-10-2017, it is hereby ordered that all the Liaison officers shall remain available at their respective place of postings instead of reporting to the Directorate of Tourism Kashmir or venue,” the new order read.
Sources said that most of the designated ‘liaison officers’, despite the cancellation of the order, were present at the concert.
The government spokesperson and other public relations officials did not respond to repeated calls from Kashmir Reader.