In a first for India’s Kashmir valley, three young girls came together to form a rock band and wanted to pursue a career in music.
The band named ‘Pragaash’ (morning light) comprises Huma, the lead vocalist and guitarist, Aneeka who plays base and Farah, who is the drummer.
They performed at the Kashmir music festival in December last year and got a standing ovation from the young crowd.
The former chairman of the Hurriyat conference, Maulvi Abbas Ansari said on Monday (February 04) in Srinagar city said that the Muslim women should adhere to the Islamic laws.
“It is absolutely wrong and un-Islamic. So, our women should abide by the Islamic laws and should not cross the limits of decency because Islam has always portrayed women as the responsibility of man who has to protect her,” said Ansari.
Muslim militants spearheading the anti-India campaign in Kashmir have in the past tried to enforce a radical form of Islam, banning beauty parlours, cinemas and liquor shops, as well as asking women to wear the veil.
But they have had little success in a region where people mostly follow Sufiism, a gentle, mystic tradition of Islam.
Echoing similar views, a Muslim cleric, Tariq Hussain said in Jammu city that according to Islamic law one should not indulge in worldly pleasures.
“As far as music is concerned, Islamic law has strictly prohibited it. Prophet Mohammad said that one should not indulge in worldly pleasures including music. Music can send across wrong message. Therefore, Islam and Islamic law have strictly prohibited music. It is not only in Kashmir but all over the Muslim world music is prohibited,” said Hussain.
The President of All-India Muslim Women Law Board, Shaista Amber said that adoption of the western culture in the form of rock music is anti-Islamic.
“It is acceptable if girls embrace music with dignity, grace and within the norms of culture and society and they keep their talent alive with decency. But adopting the western culture in the form of rock music is anti-Islamic,” said Amber.
The support has poured in for the Kashmir Valley’s first all-girl rock band, which has now stopped performing live shows following threats and criticism on social networking sites.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has also backed this band, and said it is a shame on those who claim freedom of speech via social media and then misuse it to threaten girls who have the right to choose to sing.
The general secretary of India’s ruling Congress party, Digvijay Singh said such diktats by fundamentalists pose a hindrance to the freedom of expression.
“I have been saying since the beginning that both the Hindu and the Muslim fundamental views are taking back the country to the 18th century. Congress party is a liberal party and we cannot support these views,” said Singh.
A spokesperson of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Balbir Punj said the silence of those people who do not back the Kashmiri girl’s band exhibited the double standards of the people who claim to be liberal.
“I salute the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Omar Abdullah for standing up for this urbanisation of the valley and standing in favour of these young girls who are just taking resort to music to entertain themselves and others and it is the right which the constitution of India gives. But the people who claim to be liberal, particularly left liberals by their sheer silence, they are exposing themselves and the double standard which they have even they come to light,” said Punj.
In the past, Congress politicians have also bowed to pressure from Muslim groups in freedom of speech cases. In 1988, India banned imports of Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses, which had offended many Muslims and led to an Iranian fatwa ordering the author’s death.
British author Salman Rushdie had to abandon the plans to attend a publicity event for the film adaptation of his award-winning novel “Midnight’s Children” in Kolkata after Muslim groups took to the streets to protest his visit.
Around a hundred protesters congregated outside the city’s airport ahead of the Indian-born author’s visit on January 30, airport officials said, the latest in a string of recent clashes over freedom of expression in India.
Rushdie’s cancellation came amid protests against Indian actor and director Kamal Hasan’s “Vishwaroopam” film, which Muslim groups said targeted their beliefs.
The film was forced out of cinemas by the state government and gave rise to a debate on limits to freedom of expression.
Supporters of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), a regional outfit staged a huge rally in Patna city of India’s eastern Bihar state on Sunday (February 03).
They were staging protest against the screening of the controversial film ‘Vishwaroopam’.
‘Vishwaroopam’, which was supposed to open in cinemas on January 25, was mired in controversy with some Muslim groups protesting over what they contended as depiction of the community in a negative light.
The filmmakers said the delay could cost them between $5.6 million and $14.8 million in losses – depending on whether they are granted permission to screen the movie at all or not.