Kashmir's first all-girls rock band 'Pragaash' today received unflinching support from parties across the political spectrum and women's organisations who slammed the Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir for calling their singing "un-Islamic".
Congress, BJP, BJD, National Commission for Women, AIDWA and NFIW were on the "same page" asserting that the controversial fatwa by Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad would push the society backwards.
"This is wrong. Every one has their own perspective, there are traditions. But I believe that if after so many years of independence, we stop girls from any work, it will be our double standards," Mamata Sharma, Chairperson of National Commission for Women, said.
"On the one hand we say that both genders should be equal but on the other we put restrictions on girls, that girls cannot do this...I believe this is very wrong," she added.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh slammed the fatwa and said stopping the all-girls rock band will take the society backwards.
"I have always said that whether it is ideology of the Hindu fundamentalist or Muslim fundamentalist, it will take the country back to 18th century. Congress is a moderate liberal party. We cannot support such things," he said.
Coming out in support of the rock band, BJD MP Jay Panda said: "I think no body has the right to stop other people from expressing themselves through their music or other cultural activities," he said.
Echoing Singh's views, BJP MP Najma Heptullah said: "Saying anything in the name of religion does not do any favour to the religion...If you don't like songs, don't listen to them. To stop them (the rock band members) in the name of religion, I don't think it is the right move."
Naeem Akhtar, spokesperson of Opposition People's Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir, said the entire incident was an "unnecessary controversy".
"Mufti sahab has made a profession out of issuing fatwas on every issue that is defaming religion," he said.
In a joint statement, AIDWA and NFIW strongly condemned the diktat of the grand Mufti, saying women's Constitutional rights cannot be restricted by patriarchal and conservative mind sets operating in the name of religion.
"The Grand Mufti should try to support the all round advancement of Muslim girls. The attitude shown by Bashiruddin Ahmed would further marginalise and disempower a section which is already facing many forms of socio-economic exclusion," the statement said.
BJP MP Balbir Punj praised the stand taken by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in the matter.
"In this entire issue, we have to remember that there is an attempt for 'talibanisation' of Kashmir and some other parts of the country," he said.
"Religious fundamentalists want to run the society according to their will. I would like to appreciate the strong stand taken by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in the matter," Punj added.
Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir also condemned the threats to the girls, however, flayed the negative portrayal of the issue by the media.
"The government should look into the abuses and threats made by some people to the girls on the Facebook. It is a problem that needs to be sorted out," PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said in Srinagar.
She, however, said the reporting of the issue particularly in the electronic media gave an impression that Kashmiris were a 'Taliban-like' force.
Mehbooba said a handful of people using social networking platform to abuse the girls should not be seen as representative of the entire society.
"Music is a part of our culture... We have produced great singers like Raj Begum, Zoona Begum and Kailash Mehra. Kashmiris are an emancipated people," she said.
but do not have the guts either to stop the militants nor protect and allow the band to perform freely.