We quit for Kashmir: Pragaash

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Srinagar, Feb 05: The teenage girls’ band Pragaash Tuesday said that the decision to quit playing was taken keeping in mind the decree from the government appointed Kashmir’s chief priest. But the cornering of the young artists has evoked many unanswered questions for a society where women participation in artistic endeavors has been a part of the cultural history.
The girls said: “As Mufti Saheb said that it is un-Islamic and ‘haraam’ (prohibited by Islam) and we should not continue, that is why we have disbanded. We respect him, we respect people of Kashmir and their opinions, that is why we quit.”
Member of Pragaash, Ghulam Nabi, 22, and two others said: “If 40 per cent youth are drug addicts and involved in other immoral activities why doesn’t Mufti Sahab issue fatwa on that.”
They said they were troubled by the offensive language on the Facebook.
The statement came amid police registering a case and identifying several Facebook users who had posted abusive and threatening messages on the page of the only all-girls rock band of the Valley.
“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,” a police official said.
Stating the investigation was in full swing, the official refused to divulge more details. But an official overseeing investigation said that they had indentified at least a dozen people and arrests in the case were eminent. “In a day or two you will see some arrests,” he said while requesting anonymity. Police are sifting through several posts on the Facebook page.
Within days after their performance in Srinagar, the band had started receiving online threats and absurd comments which was followed up with a ‘fatwa’ (religious decree) issued by Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad.
But, today, a top separatist women group backed the teen girls. “The entire male leadership has plunged into the verbose ‘fatwa’ throwing and concerning itself with obscure teen girls’ music band and made it a center point of the value system of the society.
Rather than ignoring it and allowing people freedom to develop their own understanding, they have reiterated the whole contention about ‘male’ centric leadership in Kashmir. Why have no diktats come for male bands or all that Kashmiri boys have indulged into?” the Khawateen Markaz headed by Anjum Zamruda Habib questioned.
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 at the annual ‘Battle of the Bands’ organized by the para-military CRPF. They had won the best performance award in their first public appearance in Srinagar.
Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir Bashiruddin Ahmad said he was happy that the girls have quit and insisted that he had never issued any threat.
“I am happy they have quit. I congratulate them, their parents and all those people who supported my fatwa. Now, I would advise them to excel in education and prove their mettle,” he said.
“There was no threat. I did not issue any threat. We do not believe in threatening and violence. I just advised them it is unIslamic. I have not created any fear in their mind. I did not put any pressure on them. This (singing) was the first step towards their disaster. If this is what you call freedom, then we do not want such a freedom,” the cleric said.

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