A member of Kashmir's first all-girl 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 told PTI.
Zamaruda said the fatwa is nothing but politics and these things are giving a
"bad name" to Kashmir.