Srinagar: The first all-girl band of Kashmir on Monday decided to call it quits in the wake of a 'fatwa' issued by Grand Mufti terming singing as un-islamic, a remark that came under all round attack.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was among a large number of political leaders who gave their unflinching support to the girls, urging them not to quit singing because of a "bunch of morons". The hardline Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani also criticised the Grand Mufti.
Within days after their performance in Srinagar, the band started receiving online threats and absurd comments which was followed up with a 'fatwa' (religious decree) issued by Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad on Sunday.
Sources close to the band said the girls have decided not to sing in the wake of Mufti's controversial decree.
The 10th-class students -- vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and guitarist Aneeka Khalid -- had formed a band "Pragash" 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.
Sensing the mounting support for the girls, hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference led by Geelani distanced itself from the 'fatwa' and said, "There is no threat to the girls. Nobody has issued any threats. It is a mere propaganda by the media and they are making a big bomb out of a normal issue to defame Kashmiris."
The spokesman of the Hurriyat faction Ayaz Akbar said some youngsters posting abuses on social networking sites cannot be termed as threat and added that Hurriyat does not support such abuse or coercion and force in any way.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti also condemned the abusive threats to the rock band and blamed the media for negative portrayal of the issue.
Singers can't be silenced by morons: Omar Abdullah
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has come down heavily on those threatening the three young girls who have formed the Valley's only rock band, Pragaash, and Monday promised police investigations into the threats.
He encouraged the girls, saying their talent should not be stymied by "a handful of morons who are trying to silence them".
Late Sunday evening, Kashmir's Grand Mufti (head priest) Mufti Bashiruddin had issued a 'fatwa' (religious decree) against the singing of the girls, and criticised the government for "trying to encourage a shameless act".
The chief minister, however, was unfazed and poured scorn on the 'fatwa'.
"Given the importance people attach to the fatwas of the Grand Mufti, the less said the better," he tweeted.
The three local girls formed the Valley's only girls' rock band last year. The girls had earlier received threats on social media. Local police have begun investigations into the threats, and the girls have taken a break from performing.
The girls' band attracted public attention when they finished third in a local competition, 'Battle of Bands' last month.
Can give security to all-girls band: Omar
Abdullah also said the state government was willing to provide security to the band members if such a request came from them.
Omar said the government will uphold the rule of law and made it clear that the Grand Mufti was not its appointee.
The Chief Minister also said the government will not be cowed down by dictates of religious leaders.
The BJP today criticised the decree issued by Jammu and Kashmir's Grandmufti against the all-girls rock band 'Pragaash', terming it a fundamentalist move which aimed at "Talibanisation" of the society.
"It is an attempt towards 'Talibanisation' of the society by certain fundamentalist groups who are uncomfortable with the return of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir," party's state spokesperson Jitendra Singh said here.
He said there are some people who don't want the youth of Kashmir to be a part of the national mainstream.
The party also hit out at the National Conference-led government in the state, alleging that its "appeasement policy towards separatists and militant groups" encourage the fundamentalists and lead to such situations.
Although the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has denounced the decree on micro-blogging site Twitter, the government has not taken any measure for ensuring security of the members of the band, Singh alleged.
The party also launched a veiled attack on the Congress, saying that its "silence" over the issue raised doubts over its commitments towards maintaining dignity of women.
Amid support pouring in for the all-girls band after it received hate messages on social-networking websites, Grandmufti Bashiruddin Ahmad, through a decree, had yesterday termed singing as "un-Islamic" and asked them to abandon it.
'Restrictions under banner of religion not correct'
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Vice President Najma Heptulla on Monday said that such restrictions under the banner of religion are not correct.
"I think this is not justice for religion. If you don't like the songs, then you should not listen to them, but to cite religion as an excuse to restrict them from singing is just wrong," she said.
Meanwhile, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Jay Panda complimented Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for supporting this band.
"I think nobody has the right to stop other people from expressing themselves by their music or other cultural activities and I was happy to note that the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir himself, Omar Abdullah, has spoken up in support of this band. So, I think that is the view that should prevail," he said.
Muslim clerics support fatwa
Muslim cleric Khalid Rashid, however, supported the diktat and threat and termed the band as 'against the culture and traditions of India'.
"I think that their decision and their concern regarding the rock band and music are completely according to the basic tenants of Islam and such kind of music and such kind of rock bands are not allowed as far as Islamic teachings are concerned. And they are against the Indian culture and tradition and they also promote noise pollution," he told the media in Lucknow.
Support has poured in for the Kashmir Valley's first all-girl rock band Pragaash', who have now stopped live shows following threats and criticism on social networking sites, from all sections of the society, including National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Mamta Sharma.
After threats, Kashmir's first all girls music band is now facing a fatwa from Muslim clerics. Kashmir's Grand Mufti has condemned the rock band and issued a fatwa against them, saying music is bad for the society and women must be under a veil at all times.
Abdullah has backed this band, and said it is a shame on those who claim freedom of speech via social media and then use that freedom to threaten girls who have the right to choose to sing.
"I hope these talented young girls will not let a handful of morons silence them. The police will examine the threats issued and whether any provision of the law can be used to book those making the threats. Shame on those who claim freedom of speech via social media and then use that freedom to threaten girls who have the right to choose to sing," he tweeted.
The members of the all-girl band have been receiving warnings, even rape threats, on the social media ever since they first performed in Srinagar two months ago. This band has received abusive and hate messages on their Facebook page for defying convention by choosing the field of music.
Farah Deeba, Aneka Khalid and Noma Nazir started receiving the threats soon after Pragaash's first live performance, at Srinagar's Battle of the Bands, an annual music festival, in December last year.
The criticisms have hit the morale of these young girls, but they have remained defiant and are fighting on. 16-year-old Nazir is the vocalist and guitarist, while Khalid is the bass guitarist and Deeba is the drummer. Both Khalid and Deeba are 15 years old.
The focus of this band, which is decided against public performances for now, is on producing an album.
The band Pragaash, which means from darkness to light, was formed last year.