Kashmir’s first all-girl rock band quits following fatwa, online threats

VANCOUVER DESI/IANS

Vocalist Manika Khalid of Pragaash, the first all-girl rock band from the Kashmir Valley, confirms that the band has quit music. IANS

The vocalist for an all-girl rock band, the first such outfit to come out of the Kashmir Valley, claims that the group is quitting music out of respect for religion, not out of fear.

“We have decided to quit in deference to the decree of the Grand Mufti, who knows religion more than we do,” Manika Khalid, 16, vocalist of the band Pragaash, said.

Khalid added the band members’ families had supported their decision to form Pragaash, which translates to “morning light.”

“I thank all those people who supported our decision to form the band and encouraged us during the last two years,” Khalid said.

The Class 10 (Grade 10) student and her bandmates found themselves in a raging controversy the past 48 hours after receiving threats on social media and even being the subject of a fatwa, or religious decree, from leading cleric Bashir-ud-din Ahmed, head of the Muslim clergy in Kashmir, who labelled the girls’ performance as “a shameful act.”

Khalid said the girls, who only performed in public once – at the Srinagar Music Festival’s Battle of the Bands, did not make the decision to disband out of fear, however.

“Yes, I am sad to quit the band, but we are not forced to take the decision under any fear,” said Khalid.

The group definitely had its protectors – police have registered a criminal case against those who issued the threats to the girls on social media – and supporters, with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah saying he hoped the band wouldn’t quit due to comments from “a handful of morons” and that he would provide them security were they to continue.

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