Girls rock band: Distraught band member flees Valley, rest in hiding after fatwa

Written by PTI | Srinagar | Updated: Feb 6 2013, 03:29am hrs
A member of Kashmir's first girls rock band has left the Valley for Bangalore after the teenage group was forced to call it quits in the wake of abusive and threatening online posts over which police filed a case today and opposition by a Muslim cleric.

Breaking the three-member group's silence after it was disbanded yesterday, two members of the band said they have given up music as they respect the decree (fatwa) issued by the Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad who termed singing as "un-Islamic".

"Kashmir is not a place for music. If anyone wants to learn music they have to go out," a member of the band which went by the name of 'Pragaash"(light) said in a choked voice.

The Mufti said he was "happy" the rock music group has been disbanded by the girls.

"I am happy they have quit. I congratulate them, their parents and all those people who supported my fatwa..., he said.

Although the whereabouts of the girls were kept a secret by the family after the controversy broke out, it has emerged that one of the three girls has gone to Bangalore amid reports she has left the Valley to help her recover from depression.

The other two girls remained in the Valley.

An official associated with the investigations said police were able to identify at least six Facebook users who had posted hate messages on the page of the rock band with the help of experts from the cyber crime cell.

"A case under Section 66 A of the IT Act and Section 506 RPC (Criminal Intimidation) has been registered in police station Rajbagh with regard to the hate messages posted on the Facebook page of the Pragaash band," a Jammu and Kashmir police spokesman said.

He said the investigations are in full swing but refused to give any details.

An official on the condition of anonymity, however, said, "So far half a dozen Facebook users who had posted hate messages have been identified while efforts are on to identify the others."

He said the Facebook page of the band had received a large number of posts -- mostly critical -- and it would take some time to sift through all of them.

"Arrests are likely to be made in the next couple of days," he added.

"We just quit (singing and music) only because of the people of Kashmir, as Mufti sahib said it is un-islamic. We did not know that they are unhappy with our music," a band member, with her face blocked out, told TV channels.

The girl said the band decided to quit music after the fatwa was issued by the Grand Mufti. "We respect the Mufti sahib who said it is haram. We respect the opinion of people of Kashmir also. That is why we quit," she added.

The girl said the band was disbanded not because of online threats.

"It is because people are not happy with us. People of Kashmir are not happy." she added.

National Conference leader and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said it was unfortunate that the girls band was forced to call it quits.

Farooq hoped the girls will not give up music and continue to sing.

The 10th-class students -- vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and guitarist Aneeka Khalid had formed a band "Pragaash" and performed in December last year with a scintillating performance at the annual 'Battle of the Bands' competition in Srinagar and won the best performance award in their first public appearance.

Noma said she is not sure whether she will play the guitar again.

The controversy, meanwhile, brought to fore differences among separatist groups in J and K.

While Dukhtaran-e-Millat(DeM) warned the girls of social boycott, Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM) denounced the fatwa of the Grand Mufti against their singing and termed the threat of ostracisation as "unwarranted".

"There are much bigger issues where fatwas can be issued. Why has there been no fatwa against male singers Why has there been no fatwa against girls participating in government or army functions," Zamaruda Habib, patron of MKM said.

Zamaruda said the fatwa is nothing but politics and these things are giving a "bad name" to Kashmir.

Separatist groups divided on support to all-girl band

Srinagar: The controversy over Kashmir's first all-girl rock band 'Pragaash' has brought to fore differences among separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir.

While Dukhtaran-e-Millat) warned the girls of social boycott, Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM) today denounced the fatwa of the Grand Mufti against their singing and termed the threat of ostracisation as "unwarranted".

"There are much bigger issues where fatwas can be issued. Why has there been no fatwa against male singers Why has there been no fatwa against girls participating in government or army functions," Zamaruda Habib, patron of MKM said.

Zamaruda said the fatwa is nothing but politics and these things are giving a "bad name" to Kashmir.

"In the wake of controversies concerning women, what has concerned us in a terrible way is the upsurge in domestic violence and bride burning issues that have come to the fore.

"It is a catastrophic situation where we see very few men in the community getting agitated by such brutal acts of violence perpetrated against women. This shows the Islamic or humanistic morals of our society are being shoved under political excuses and remain at the bay from larger male consciousness," she said.

She said, the MKM believes in the freedom of expression of art, music and grace that "suits and defines us as a nation".

"The entire male leadership has plunged into the verbose 'fatwa' throwing and concerning itself with obscure teen girls music band and made it a centre point of the value system of the society," she said.

"Rather than ignoring it and allowing people freedom to develop their own understanding, they have reiterated the whole contention about 'male' centric leadership in Kashmir," she lamented.

"Why have no diktats come for male bands or all that Kashmiri boys have indulged into" Habib questioned citing examples of recent incidents of burning of women and throwing acid on them.

Reacting to the threat of social boycott of girls of the band by another women separatist outfit, Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM), she said, the MKM is against it.

"I respect Asiya'ji (DeM chief), but I do not support social boycott. It is unwarranted. Why should we boycott our girls," she said.

She expressed concern over the way women's issues are being handled and said young girls should not be threatened.

"We should educate our daughters and not threaten them. I will cut the tongues of anyone who says anything against any Kashmiri girl," she added.

Sensing the mounting support for the girls, hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani had distanced itself from the 'fatwa' by Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad and said, "there is no threat to the girls".