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India: Jammu &Kashmir all-girl band in grand trouble

Monday 4 February 2013, by siawi3

Published: Monday, Feb 4, 2013, 5:00 IST

By DNA Correspondent | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

After online threats and abuses, Praagaash — the Valley’s first all-women rock band — has now drawn the ire of the Grand Mufti of Kashmir. Bashir-ud-din Farooqi on Sunday issued a fatwa against Praagaash, saying the women should stop their activities and to imbibe moral values.

“It (music and band) is a very bad thing and against Islam. The government should not encourage these activities. Women should remain within the confines of modesty. Decency and high moral values among women folk is the key to nation building. Therefore, we should encourage high moral values in our society. It is just like a fatwa,†Mufti Bashir, who heads the self-styled Supreme Court of Shariat, told DNA.

His comments came a day after Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah threw his weight behind the rock band and asked the police to investigate the threats to them. “Shame on those who claim freedom of speech via social media and then use that freedom to threaten girls who have the right to choose to sing. I hope these talented young girls will not let a handful of morons silence them,†he tweeted.

But the Grand Mufti is not impressed. “This (music and singing) is the first step towards bulldozing our moral and Islamic fabric in Kashmir. I advise their parents to impart Islamic education alongside modern education to them, which can only guarantee success in their life,†he said

The separatists, too, are targeting the band. “There is no room for nourishing Western culture and immoral values in Kashmir. No noble family will allow their girls to choose their profession as a dancer,†said Ayaz Akbar, spokesperson of the hardline faction of Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. “Parents should have chipped in to advise their daughters that their activities are not according to Islam.â€

Praagaash is a rock band comprising Farah Deeba (drum­mer), Aneeqa Khalid (bass player) and Noma Nazir (guitarist and vocalist). They last performed in December in Srinagar. After the abuse and threats, they have decided to stop public performances and concentrate on cutting albums.