As they watched Zubin Mehta on television,performing at Shalimar Gardens,four Kashmiri artistes in J&K House in New Delhi let out a collective sigh.
As the music filled the room,one member of the troupe,G M Lone,said to the other,You know,this concert is being shown live in seven countries. Their own thoughts centred on a series of concerts in London where they were expected Saturday. For now,they have to wait only two of the six-member troupe led by singer Waheed Jeelani have so far received visas to travel to the UK. Two others have been denied while two more await their visas.
Vocalist Usha Khar said,If Zubin Mehta and his entourage of 100 can travel to Kashmir to perform,why cant we be given visas to perform elsewhere?
The others tabla and tumbakhnaer player Imtiyaz Malik,rabab player Ghulam Mohammad Lone and sarangi player M A Bhat nodded in agreement.
We are artistes not terrorists, said one as they watched Zubin in Shalimar Gardens.
The troupe applied for visa on August 21 after receiving an invitation to perform in London. They were given referrals by the government. When the visas were delayed,the artistes did not want to take chances. They came to Delhi to expedite the process.
They say they have been to the British High Commission every day since Wednesday without much success.
They should at least tell us if the visas will come through. If not,we can go back to Kashmir. We are paying for travel and lodging and we dont have a lot of money, one of the artistes said.
Officials at the British High Commission refused to comment on the issue saying they dont comment on individual cases.