Caught Between Clerics, Media, ‘Band’ Calls It A Day

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SRINAGAR: After a bizarre turn of events, driven by the media and outlandish views by clerics with nothing better to do, three guitar-strumming schoolgirls are said to have called it a day.

Dubbed as a “rock band” this small group of innocuous youngsters is understood to have become targets of hate mail on the internet after appearing in a local competition.

Pious pronouncements by some top clerics over Pragash (the advent of light), as the fledgling trio called itself, has stirred a cliché-ridden and needless debate over music and Islam in Kashmir where legendary and indigenous female voices on radio have iconic status.

Thanks to reactions from Mufti Basheeruddin Ahmad, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the Hurriyat (G), the “band,” which went unnoticed by the local press along with the competition it performed in last month, is emblazoned across the Indian media.

The group itself has maintained a silence, but media reports quoting family sources suggested that it had “given up” music and singing.    

“Such trivial acts (like singing and playing instruments) never develop a society but are a first step to demolish its moral fabric,” the Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Basheeruddin, was reported to have said.

The statement came after chief minister Omar Abdullah’s tweet on threats the band was reportedly issued on the social media.

“Talented teenagers should not let themselves be silenced by a handful of morons,” Abdullah wrote on Twitter.

This earned him instant censure from the Grand Mufti for “expressing unnecessary support to a shameless act.”

“They (the schoolgirls) should stop from such activities and not get influenced by the support of political leaderships,” the Grand Mufti was said to have retaliated.

Adding its bit over “decency and morality” in corruption-ridden Kashmir, the spokesman of the Geelani-led faction of the Hurriyat was quoted as having said: “No noble family will allow its children to choose a profession of becoming a dancer.”

“We believe that parents of the girls should tell them that such act are un-Islamic,” he said.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who leads another faction of the Hurriyat, said was quoted as having said that the “rock band” of Kashmiri girls was against moral values.

“We belong to the land of Sufi saints, where there is no place for musical concerts. It is ironic that our girls are now being diverted towards westernisation,” the Mirwaiz was quoted by newspapers on Monday as having said.   

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