Kashmir's all-girl rock band quits performing

Srinagar, Feb 4 (IANS) The teacher of the all-girl rock band against whom a 'fatwa' was issued said here Monday that the girls have stopped performing even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah promised police investigations into the threats.

Adnan Muhammad Mattoo, who trained the three Class 10 girls before they formed the valley's first girls' rock band, told IANS: "Since the grand mufti, whom we treat as part of the government, says they must not play music, the three girls have decided to quit."

"I formed the valley's first rock band, Blood Rock, seven years ago. I now feel seven years of my life have been wasted. I have also decided to quit and give up my pursuit of rock music," Mattoo said.

He added that there are nearly 40 rock bands in the state. "Their future is also in doldrums now," he said.

After receiving threats on the social media, the family sources of the three girls who formed the Pragaash band said they had told their wards not to continue their pursuit.

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

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had hoped on his micro-blogging Twitter site that the three talented girls would not give up under threats from "a handful of morons".

Abdullah also said he would have the threats against the girls investigated.

Mehbooba Mufti, president of opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), said here Monday that Kashmiri women singers like Raj Begum, Kailash Mehra and Shamima Azad had been widely appreciated and encouraged. "I don't know what religious reasons the grand mufti had to issue his decree, but I feel it is being blown out of proportion," she said.

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."

Ruling National Conference leader Mustafa Kamal said: "The chief minister has said he would provide security to these girls if they want to pursue their passion. He has also said he would not intervene if the girls decided to give up their pursuit of music."

Taking strong exception to the 'fatwa', 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."

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

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