Omar says music can't be silenced by morons

After threats, Kashmir's first all girls music band is now facing a fatwa from Muslim clerics.

SRINAGAR: Lashing out at self-styled moral brigades threatening three young girls who formed a rock band in the valley, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that the police would examine the threats and whether any provision of the law could be used to book those who had made the threats.

Encouraging the girls to carry on with their music, Abdullah said  their talent should not be stymied by a handful of morons who are trying to silence them.

The band decided to quit following mounting pressure by hard-line voices in the valley to abandon music.

According to sources, the girl band yielded under pressure after a fatwa was issued by Grand Mufti who earlier said that it is "un-Islamic" in nature for girls to perform and called upon women to wear a veil at all times.

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.

Praagaash, the first all-girl band in Kashmir, was formed last year by Noma Bhatt, Farah Deeba and Aneeqa Khalid. All three, from Srinagar's uptown area, were students of Class IX then.

Noma is the band's vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Farah is a drummer and Aneeqa a bass guitarist.

"Rumours" that the rock group had been disbanded because of the threats and abuses on social networking sites after their performance at Srinagar's Indoor stadium last December created a buzz today. One of the posts had said they were a "shame" for Kashmir and should be "thrown out".

But Aneeqa, in her daring message on the band's Facebook page, said the band had not folded up. "Hey guys! Please don't pay heed to any rumors. There was some misunderstanding, we did not quit or anything…Aneeqa :)," she said.

The 15-year-old said they had gone "underground" for a while. "Have been working on our songs lately. Please share this message and keep supporting," she added.

Adnan Mohammad, the trio's music teacher and mentor, said the girls had not been performing since their last show on December 26. "There has been an online campaign against them, where they have been threatened and abused. They had gone silent after that and there were rumours that they are quitting music. But I checked with all of them and they said they won't," he told The Telegraph.

Adnan, a rhythm guitarist who heads a Kashmiri Sufi band, BloodRockz, said the girls might avoid live performances but cut albums.

"They and their parents were frightened because of the threats. I talked to all the three girls and they said they would continue playing music. Since some people have problems with live performances, they said they would make albums from now."

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.

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.

The focus of this band, which is decided against public performances for now, is on producing an album.


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