Fatwa against Kashmir girls' rock band motivated: BJP

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 04, 2013 12:30 hrs

Jammu, Feb 4 (IANS) The BJP Monday described the 'fatwa' against the all-girl rock band in Kashmir as an attemptby certain fundamentalist groups to "Talibanise" society.

Taking strong exception to the 'fatwa' (religious decree) issued by grand mufti Bashir-ud-din-Ahmed, head of the Muslim clergy in Kashmir, against the all-girl rock band, state BJP chief spokesperson Jitendra Singh said: "These (fundamentalists) who are uncomfortable with the return of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir want to keep the Kashmir pot boiling for their vested interests."

He added: "These are elements which do not want the youth of Kashmir to be a part of the national mainstream in democratic India."

Holding the National Conference-led coalition government in the state responsible for such a situation, Singh said: "It is because of this government's appeasement policy towards separatists and militants that fundamentalists feel emboldened to hold out such threats."

He alleged that though Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has distanced himself from the 'fatwa' and denounced it, the state government has done little to provide security to members of the rock band or to dissuade the fundamentalist groups from holding them to ransom.

"Past experience bears that on each such occasion, the weak-kneed approach of the government has led to further encouragement of extremists and their designs," Singh added.

Hitting out at the Congress - which is a coalition partner in the state government - Singh said the party's silence on the issue puts a question mark on its sincerity in claiming to uphold the rights of women and acting as a champion of their freedom in the wake of the Justice Verma Committee's report in the aftermath of the brutal rape and torture of a Delhi woman.

Reacting to reported threats to the band on social media, Abdullah said: "The talented teenagers should not let themselves be silenced by a handful of morons."

The main opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) supported the band. PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhtar told media persons: "Music is part of our spiritual culture since decades. Kashmir has produced many women singers and Kashmiris are still fond of their songs."

Late Sunday evening, Ahmed had issued a 'fatwa' against the all-girl rock band and criticised the government for "trying to encourage a shameless act".

Separatist leaders also disapproved of the girl's band and said: "This (band) was against moral values and they (the girls) should refrain from singing. There is no place for such acts in Islam."

The band Pragaash (morning light) comprising three Class 10 girls, gave their first live performance at Srinagar's music festival, Battle of the Bands in December last year.

After their performance, there were praises and abuses for them on social networking websites along with threats to disband Pragaash. Sources close to the band said they would not be performing for some time.

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