Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi were among the stars expected to attend the Jashn-e-Rekhta festival in Dubai. Image Credit: Courtesy: Jashn-e-Rekhta

Dubai: The upcoming Jashn-e-Rekhta festival in Dubai has been indefinitely postponed in wake of the deadly attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir which claimed over 40 lives on Thursday. A rage in India, the three-day Urdu festival was set to make its international debut at the city’s Zabeel Park on February 28.

In a statement issued on Friday, organisers said: “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of security personnel who lost their lives or were injured in the attack. In light of this tragedy, it has been decided to postpone the event till further notice.”

Organisers said they regret the inconvenience caused to ticket-holders and were making efforts to refund their money. A fresh date for the event was yet to be announced.

A celebration of the various facets of the Urdu language, the festival promised an eclectic mix of poetry, talk shows, ghazals and storytelling with top poets, artistes, literary scholars and singers from India, Pakistan, the UK and Canada in attendance.

The line-up of stars included Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Ali Fazal, Mahira Khan, Raza Murad, Anwar Masood, Sanam Marvi, Fareed Ayaz, Abu Mohammad, Tanya Wells among many others. The event was expected to draw between 8,000-10,000 people daily.

Indian expat Nigar Alam, 32, who was looking forward to the event said she’s disappointed to learn that it has been shelved but feels it was the correct decision. “My prayers are with the families of the soldiers who were martyred in the attack. The organisers did the right thing to call it off,” said the Sharjah resident.

Another Urdu lover, Dubai-based S. Masoud, 42, from Pakistan said he hoped the festival is held at a later date. “What has happened in India is indeed terrible. I join my friends from across the border to mourn the death of soldiers who lost their lives in the dastardly attack. That said, I genuinely want the festival to be held because its explicit aim is to bridge divides and bring people closer through the medium of Urdu,” he said.

Condemning the attack, another Urdu lover said, if there was a time to hold Jashn-e-Rekhta it was now. “Today, passions are running high. This would’ve been the perfect opportunity to host a festival of poetry which unites cultures like nothing else,” he said.