The first all-girl band of Kashmir on Monday decided to call it quits in the wake of a fatwa issued by Grand Mufti terming singing as un-islamic, a remark that came under all round attack.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was among a large number of political leaders who gave their unflinching support to the girls, urging them not to quit singing because of a "bunch of morons". The hardline Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani also criticised the Grand Mufti.
Within days after their performance in Srinagar, the band started receiving online threats and absurd comments, which was followed up with a fatwa (religious decree) issued by Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad on Sunday.
Sources close to the band said the girls have decided not to sing in the wake of Mufti's controversial decree.
The 10th-class students -- vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and guitarist Aneeka Khalid -- had formed a band ‘Pragash’ and performed in December last year with a scintillating performance at the annual 'Battle of the Bands' competition in Srinagar and won the best performance award in their first public appearance.
Sensing the mounting support for the girls, hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference led by Geelani distanced itself from the 'fatwa' and said, "There is no threat to the girls. Nobody has issued any threats. It is a mere propaganda by the media and they are making a big bomb out of a normal issue to defame Kashmiris."
The spokesman of the Hurriyat faction Ayaz Akbar said some youngsters posting abuses on social networking sites cannot be termed as threat and added that Hurriyat does not support such abuse or coercion and force in any way.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti also condemned the abusive threats to the rock band and blamed the media for negative portrayal of the issue.
"The government should look into the abuses and threats made by some people to the girls on the Facebook. It is a problem that needs to be sorted out," Mehbooba said.
She said the reporting of the issue, particularly in electronic media, gave an impression that Kashmiris were a ‘Taliban-like’ force.
"Music is part of our culture --we have produced great singers like Raj Begum, Zoona Begum and Kailash Mehra. Kashmiris are an emancipated people," she added.
In New Delhi, political parties cutting across party lines and various women organisations extended their support to the band and also slammed the Grand Mufti for calling their singing "un-Islamic".
The Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Biju Janata Dal, National Commission for Women, All India Democratic Women's Association and National Federation of Indian Women were on the "same page" asserting that the fatwa by Grand Mufti would push the society backwards.
"This is wrong. Every one has their own perspective; there are traditions. But I believe that if after so many years of independence, we stop girls from any work, it will be our double standards," Mamata Sharma, chairperson of National Commission for Women, said.
"On the one hand we say that both genders should be equal but on the other we put restrictions on girls, that girls cannot do this...I believe this is very wrong," she added.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh slammed the fatwa and said stopping the all-girls rock band will take the society backwards.
"I have always said that whether it is ideology of the Hindu fundamentalist or Muslim fundamentalist, it will take the country back to 18th century. Congress is a moderate liberal party. We cannot support such things," he said.
Coming out in support of the rock band, BJD MP Jay Panda said, "I think no body has the right to stop other people from expressing themselves through their music or other cultural activities."
Echoing Singh's views, BJP MP Najma Heptullah said, "Saying anything in the name of religion does not do any favour to the religion...If you don't like songs, don't listen to them. To stop them (the rock band members) in the name of religion, I don't think it is the right move."