3 held for abusing J&K's all-girl band on Facebook

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 07, 2013 10:29 hrs

Srinagar: Three youth were arrested on Wednesday night in connection with the online abuses and threats to the all-girls rock band of Kashmir.

Tariq Khan was apprehended from Bijbehara, a town in South Kashmir, and Rameez Shah was arrested from Ganderbal in central Kashmir, police sources said. Later in the night, Irshad Ahmad Chara, resident of S D Colony, Batamaloo, was arrested. The police had been raiding different places to apprehend the third accused.

Jammu and Kashmir director general of police Ashok Prasad, who is closely monitoring the case, has directed stepping up of patrolling in the areas where two of the three girls of the band group reside.

Police have started tracking down the Internet Protocol addresses of the 26 users whose comments, out of the total 900 posts on the band's Facebook page, were found abusive, officials said.

They said the delay of three days in lodging the FIR was due to large number of posts on the Facebook page of Kashmir's all-girl band Pragaash, that took time to get scanned.

A case in the matter has been registered under Section 66A of IT Act and Section 506 RPC (criminal intimidation) in the Rajbagh police station here.

A member of the band had yesterday said they decided to call it quits as they respected the decree of Kashmir's grand mufti who found singing un-Islamic.

"We respect the Mufti sahib who said it (singing) is 'Haram'. We respect the opinion of people of Kashmir also.

That is why we quit," she said adding that the band was not disbanded because of online threats.

The DGP has requested all central agencies to extend support to apprehend all those who had hurled online abuses at the all-girls band.

Never give up your passion: Iranian all-woman band to Pragaash

This all-woman Sufi music troupe comes from a much conservative Muslim society of Iran but has never faced any 'fatwa' from clerics unlike the young girls' band of Kashmir which had to call it quits due to religious edicts.

'Ghazal', the young and refreshing band which is here to perform at a festival organised by ICCR, has a very strong but simple message for the Kashmiri girls -- never give up your passion in the face of opposition.

"We are so sorry to hear (about the Kashmir girls' band Pragaash). We are so happy to perform in India but why can't they," asks Sahar Lotfi, who leads the seven-member troupe formed in 2010.

Lotfi, whose troupe has performed in a number of concerts by propagating the Sufi tradition of their country with jubilation, says women in Iran, a much conservative society when compared to Kashmir, are free to decide what they want to do.

Women in Iran are "very cooperative" and "understanding" when it comes to the fair sex taking up singing, dancing and other activities.

"We are free to perform instrumental and whatever we want to. My family has also been very cooperative," she says.

Sympathising with the young Kashmiri girls, who called it quits on Monday after the Grand Mufti of Kashmir termed their singing un-Islamic, Lofti asked them not to run away in the face of a threat.

"They should go on. They should not stop. They should continue with propagating the message of peace and love. They should go on," she says.

Not only Lotfi, there is also another woman performer who had come from Azerbaijan.

Congress slams ban on girl band

The Congress, meanwhile, criticised the 'fatwa' against the state's all-girl rock band and supported the Jammu and Kashmir government's stand.

"The state government has taken correct steps," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told reporters here.

Stating that the 'fatwa' against the girls' band was a "serious" issue, Alvi said, "There could be no restrictions on an individual's freedom of expression."

"India is a secular country. There is freedom to preach any religion but it cannot be imposed on anybody," said Alvi.

Grand Mufti Bashir-ud-din Ahmed, head of the Muslim clergy in Kashmir, issued a 'fatwa' (religious decree) Sunday asking the parents of the three girls who formed the rock band to impart religious education to their daughters. He labelled the girls' performance as "a shameful act".

Kashmir rights group to file suit against Grand Mufti

Meanwhile, a civil society human rights group said they would file a case against Kashmir's Grand Mufti for issuing fatwas, which project the state in bad light internationally.

Pervez Imroze, patron of Jammu and Kashmir coalition for civil society told media persons: "He is a self-appointed religious leader who has been issuing fatwas, which project Kashmir and Kashmiris in bad light internationally."

Earlier he issued a fatwa against the Christians and now he has issued another one against these girls, he said.

"He is protected by the state government and has been trying to establish his own legal system. We have decided to move the court against his right to issue intimidating fatwas," said Imroze.

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