After criticism, Kashmir’s girls’ rock band quits

Indian-Controlled Kashmir

The members of the Pragaash band. Photograph by Shuaib Masoodi for The Indian Express

In Kashmir- a disputed region, the first girls’ rock band performed in public during a “Battle of Bands”, in the capital city Srinagar, on December 22, 2012- hosting different local bands. Two days after the performance, the band members started receiving threats and abuses on social networking sites. Since then they have remained away from the public glare and have been told by their families not to talk about music anymore.

The band named Pragaash meaning “from darkness to light” in Kashmiri, has Farah Deeba as drummer, Aneeka Khalid as bass guitarist and Noma Nazir as vocalist and guitarist. All in their teens and in high school formed the band in January 2012 when they would go to Band Inn- a local music institute run by a music student Adnan Mohammad.

A friend of the band members, on anonymity, said that they have received threats for performing in public and making a music band. “They will not talk to any journalist. Their families have told them not to talk to anyone and play music now.” A local reporter, when tried to do a story on the band, was told they are no more performing now.

The band got standing ovation at their first public performance. “[…] one day I was surprised to see all music bands of Kashmir performing live in front of my eyes. It was a band war “clash of titans”. […] after the competition was over I rushed to my home and discussed with my family about the bands and the music they played. On seeing my enthusiasm for music my mom and dad supported me to join music classes at Band Inn,” writes Deeba on the band’s Facebook page.

Two days after their public performance, on December 24, a Facebook page posted a photograph of all the band members with the caption: “Personally, I consider them as shameless & spoiled brats. People may think of me as a narrow-minded freak but that won’t change my perspective. Have your say ??” (Sic) The post started getting comments saying that the music is not allowed in Islam- the religion followed by the majority of the people in the region. The thousands of reactions from people of different circles were mostly abusive and several were threatening them of rape.

“Post this status in advance The three band girls Raped at jammu And thrown into river” (sic), “These are Pig fart. They themselves are cause of rape incidents.”, “in k saath bhi waisa hi hona chahiye. jo dehli waali ladki k saath huwa. Besharam” (Same should happen to them that happened to Delhi girl. Shameless)  were the comments people wrote for them. They were expressing their opposition to girls’ band.

On seeing criticism and abuses for the band, several people on social networking sites started defending the work of the band. “It is kind of odd to believe in this day and age that people could be kept away from music…whatever be the morality of music, in practice there is just too much out there to control for anyone, let alone a few Facebook vigilantes,” wrote Mohammad Junaid, a Kashmiri-American anthropologist.

It is not first time in the valley that girls have faced such opposition. In past, girls were criticized for riding gear-less scooters, wearing jeans, using cellphones or driving cars. “[…] I hope the girls remain safe, and produce some quality music. And if they could make a rock band, I think they might be also able to deal with anti-music folks well enough,” added Junaid.

For them it was like a dream come true when they started learning music at the institute. “This was my first step to learn music. I mostly liked drum beats, so I decided to be a drummer…After [a] few days Noma and Aneeqa also joined Band Inn to learn music and hence Pragaash the band emerged,” writes Deeba.

Despite harsh criticism from different quarters of the society, Kashmiri women have been part of every field whether it is being dynamic at the professional level or in the people’s movements for justice. The women have even been a central part of the pro-freedom movement too. The band members, on their page, assure people that the band will be success no matter what. “…being the only girls’ band in Kashmir we get a lot of criticism but we will show everyone what we have in store for you guys,” the girls mention on the page.

Their guide at the institute, Adnan, told The Indian Express, “I am in love with music. I have suffered a lot while finding an institute to learn music. I don’t want these people to suffer like I suffered. I encourage girls of the Valley. I have found them very talented.”

The girls have been stopped talking to anyone about their band or activities in music. When I messaged the band members, through Facebook, to talk to them about their work, Khalid replied in negative. “Sorry. Can’t help you. I’m not allowed to answer any questions,” she said.

When told about the incident, a member of legislative assembly said that the Kashmiris have always been music lovers. “People play music and sing on marriages and it has been going on. The Chief Minister himself promotes the participation of youth in such events. If any individual or group is facing threats from people they should complaint and the government will provide them protection,” he said.

44 comments

  1. Shahid says:

    Wt kashmiri boys nd men r doing in kashmir or outside….does islam permit that….they call themselves as educated, but i believe they are more worst than illeterate jahil people…..called demselves kashmiris nd wt dey r doing in broad day Light, does islam permit that…but if sum1 else tries…then religion is called in between bcz they know that actually they themselves cannot move a single stone but can critisize others….this holds true for them…empty vessels make much noise….

  2. Shahid says:

    my good wishes always with these girls…nvr look behind if u r destined to do sumthing in ua life….obstacles will always b there…face them and move ahead…..

  3. gousia says:

    hypocrites………… music is haraam fa both boths girls n boys aswell then y dis bias……..very disappointing…..

  4. Rajan says:

    Dear girls have the guts to live ur dremz n juss give a damn to these cowards…if these pepl cannot love their tender nightingales , they r Gud fr nothing bt blabbers making stupid n irrelevant noises. Instead of listening to their hollow noises juss sing n sing n let their voices b lost in ur melodious voices… All d best!!!!!!!

  5. gregorylent says:

    so sad … what does it take for a culture to wake up to a higher level of understanding?

  6. Nilendu Datta Choudhuri says:

    Its those hypocrites, who have sent threatening emails, etc to those girls, who should be publicly flogged. These anti socials claim themselves to be enforcers of religion but what they are actually are criminals n hv no right to be given any humane treatment…. people anywhere should not take their baseless threats seriously. N if music is sin then the definition of sin changes.

  7. Anon Blogger says:

    Why the hell is people even bringing the comparison of Delhi girl? its a shame on Indian society.. how can even someone think like that? If something similar has to repeat then such morons should be killed..

    Meanwhile, read something which might chnge opinion of such people

  8. Vikram says:

    If you girls are facing any threats in Kashmir, you are welcome in the rest of India. Move to Delhi along with your family and enjoy the freedom from the religious hypocrites. My God! The amount of abuse that these girls are facing on that facebook page for just performing on stage is unbelievable!!! Are these people in Kashmir still living in Middle Ages? I used to be sympathetic about them when there were reports of abuse of AFSPA and all. But looking at the misogyny and fanaticism in that society, I guess AFSPA is justified. Otherwise all those goons who posted on that facebook page will kill independent, creative, modern girls like these.

  9. Bhavika Sicka says:

    This backward mentality of people is so sickening and disappointing.
    Music is an art; performing infront of men or women, regardless, is a display of that art.
    Who is anyone to pronounce judgement? Moral police? God’s guardians? Because of such narrow-minded people and their medieval attitudes talented women like this have to give up their dreams and aspirations and conform to orthodoxy; align themselves with the norms dictated by institutionalized religion.
    And the rape threats are just disgusting. Such a shame! I wish Kashmiri women will be able to alleviate themselves from such oppression and marginalization. Our country has a long way to go.

  10. ishaan alagh says:

    Nothing very new, welcome to india

  11. The Rocker says:

    It was very depressing to hear whatever happened with the girls. I am so proud of them that they learned music and formed a rock band of girls.
    A life of women is not easy in India, because women in power or the one who just stays inside are equally powerless, because they are in habit of accepting all the nonsense. These girls are hope for new India. There are so many rockers closed inside the room because they are girls.
    But trust me time will change and it will change very soon.
    For people who don’t like them or are obstacles in their way will be kicked to hell. The more you will stop , the more women will rise.
    Cause everyone is equal and free :)

  12. peuish says:

    If Music is harram, then why u do it in kwaja ji dargah, dnt make ppl fool. u dnt like music its u prblm,dnt use religion for u views.

  13. Abu Muhammad says:

    I wont say that only the girls are doing WRONG, infact, every MUSLIM associated with “professional” music is doing a HARAAM activity. It should be stopped. Labelling & abusing these little girls is not humane… Their mature (muslim) parents, who I bet are very educated, are to blame… Islam asks its believers to be modest & this is a step towards the Dajjali-Zionist modernism.

    May Allaah guide us all and bless these little flowers with wisdom & guidance…

    Aameen! :)

    • Prith says:

      your views are absolutely pathetic. That means all these great Indian classical musicians who are muslims have been doing haram. SHAME ON YOU. Your mindset is worse than a Psycho.

  14. Abu Muhammad says:

    Brother Shahid
    Assalamualaikum!

    Your words seem to depict that you are lacking in analytical abilities. Let me explain:

    1. Justifying a wrong thing wont make it right.

    Even if a hundred million murderers exist on this earth, you cannot justify murder. It remains a heinous crime. Similarly, professional music by (all) muslims wont turn it HALAL. It remains forbidden (HARAAM).
    We as muslims, have to denounce this particular trend: boys & girls alike.

    2. Empty Vessels making Noise

    It is hypocrisy when we try to LEGITIMIZE something that is clearly FORBIDDEN in Islam, just because We Like It. I am not denouncing you for not knowing the correct ruling (fatwah) on Music, but it seems you are defining yourself by that phrase you mentioned.

    Salaam!

    • Sanjeev says:

      @ Abu Muhammad,

      Well done! Now listen to this:

      Islam has nothing to do with teritorial boundaries. It believes in humanity. It does not believe in compulsion of any kind. Therefore, all the following activities are unislamic -

      1. Death / other penalties for conversion out of Islam or for blasphemy. Most islamic countries practice this. Most Muslims support this.

      2. J&K freedom struggle. This struggle is unislamic because it is totally irrelevant for a Muslim which country s/he is living in as long as her/his devotion to God is complete.

      Am I right?

      • Jonah Ryder says:

        Sanjeev..This is not directed at you but to those that read your comments.

        You need not reply, having said that you surely may. Be it denouncing these retorts as spam or any other jest you try. It will just get repeated over & over & over & over…catch my drift.. :)

        If you are a regular on this site. You know these people like Sanjeev (& the like) as a craven sods that perpetuates the propaganda and agenda of India.

        Their purpose is to coerce and deceive the outsider who doesn’t follow the Kashmir conflict with vigor.

        Thus far they have abused, fueled hatful attacks both virtually and on ground.

        Please take their responses with a grain of salt & ask yourself why the voice of the Kashmir walla is repeatedly attacked by these hate mongers.

        I ask the reader to also consider the beauty of Kashmirwalla to allow them their voice as erroneous it may be. Regardless take this as your warning & please do your research on the Occupied region of Kashmir before coming to any conclusions.

        The voice of the voiceless must carry on, wether being attacked by the likes of mentioned or gaged by agencies on the ground.

        Truth must prevail, no matter how often and powerful the spin masters try to sabotage our attempts to putting it forth.

        Best Regards,

        A Humble supporter of the Kashmiri Cause.

  15. tanu says:

    those who threatens the band are not really religious fundamentalists. they are actually male chauvinist.

    • Difference maker says:

      now how are you supposed to know about Islam.. Pls dont comment here without propper knowledge. Infact, the just for knowledge of you and others, united nations adopted Islamic laws for the rights and protection of woman after it considered every religion that be sanatam dharm, christians etc so pls, dnt make fun of yourself. Thanks

      • tanu says:

        i know nothing about any religion. and i also know banning only a girls rock band don’t represent a “true religion” worth.
        what about boys bands? do they face ban?

  16. Difference maker says:

    All praise to Allah, Music is haram . .totally haram. Whatever these ppl are doing and other besides them like siam bhat, is diappointing…. All of them them have a ill heart for they turn deaf towards Islam, shariah , Allah and prophet and ultimately their own SOULS… Very SAD

    • Sagar Sharma says:

      How is playing music offending you or your religion ?
      Explain me, and everyone. Please !

      • tanu says:

        the truth is there no such things written in any religious book that “music offends religion”. it is a decorum created by some sick misers who doesn’t want to spent money on entertainment.
        i heard islamic cleric shouting “alah hu akbar” in a sweet rhythm tune every day from a masjid in our colony. the sound is soothing like any other famous sweet songs :)

  17. veer sheikh says:

    Hahahaha,sory to laugh at the stupidity of those who thinks that music is wrong in islam.There is not a single verse in the whole quran which speaks against music.Even Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) has allowed the music and dance on few happy occasions.Its the narrow mindedness of few bird brain and illitrate people who have spoken against the music as well as have threatened these innocent girls.

    • Abu Muhammad says:

      Dear Veer Shaikh

      Beware! You are laying baseless allegations upon the blessed Prophet (SAW)!!

      If you think of us as brainless or bird-brain, let YOU provide us the PROOF of what you claim to be allegedly the words of Muhammad (SAW)

      I DARE YOU TO FIND APPROVAL FOR “MUSIC” in the Qura’n or Sunnah!

      • Sanjeev says:

        Abu Mohammed Laden,

        I dare you to find a Quranic approval for the following:

        1. Death penalty for apostacy or for converting out of Islam.
        2. A ‘freedom struggle’ based on teritory and comprising of violent Jihadi attacks on civilians, chopping off their noses et al.
        3. Driving out non-Muslims from their homes just because others living around are Muslim, and asking them to convert to Islam under threat of violating their women.

        If you can’t, then give your halaal mouth a rest. All these things have happened in Islamic J&K.

      • Sama says:

        Dear Abu Muhammad, show me one verse in Quran that is against music. As far as Hadith is concerned, there is text supporting it. Music is the food of the soul. Music is in in everything, its natural, you cant remove it.

        Hazrate Dawood had a beautiful voice.
        There are far more important things to focus on, like backbiting, corruption etc but everyone wants to follow things according to their convenience.

    • sehar says:

      I dont want to advice anyone wat is wrong and wat is rite but I am just advising you to clear your concepts. Wat you dont know cannot be accpeted if others know it well and is penned down.
      So dont compare our prophet Mohammad (SAW)with any one in any situation. He (SAW) hated Music because it is prohibited in Islam…

  18. mohammad omar says:

    Kabhi ay nawjawaan muslim tadabur be kiya tuunay
    woh kya gardhoon tha tu jis ka ha ek TOOTA huva TARAA.
    to be a singer, such a lowly aim for kashmiri muslim girls. I suppose they hav been mis-guided by fanatical caste hindu brahmins. Muslims were created to lead, born to rule. They cant be stage performers. Set your aims high for muslims have been been compared with shaheen for whom even sky can become limited if he wills.
    Nahi hai iqbal naumeed apni kashte veeran say
    zara nam ho ye miti bohat zarkhayaz hai saaki
    moreover we dont need advices from fanaticals. They themselves have been involved in crimes against schedules and women. Set ur house in order. We know how to control ours.

  19. Venkat says:

    This horrible state of affairs in India is leading to v very dangerous end. One can’t speak what he/ she wants to. We are at the mercy of some fundamentalistic groupes encouraged by political leaders for survival. Be it Viswaroopam, Rushide, Tasleema or Nandy. But one thing is becoming clearer, for any ill of the country there are politics of power behind it, be it corrupt babus or corrupt judiciary or terrorism or rape. I feel sad for our country. God save India i.e. Bharat !!!

  20. sybil jane says:

    Itz surprising that those who r talking abt the protection and freedom r themselves an oppressed lot living under the shades of ideas that r outcast.
    I want them to answer my question that wen DELHI RAPE CASE happenned were not there streets clothed with liberty and freedomalong side equality coupled with adequate security measures to quell down any threat. Was not this very liberty overexercised. And that girl how oppressed she wud hav felt.may b she paid the cost for this bloody freedom u brahmins talk abt. Then wat is the fun of such liberty. I will tell. This liberty is a means to ensure that the drunkard on your streets dont find it difficult to catch his prey when he wants to release his pent up sexual desires. When youth of ur states in an attempt to exercise there right abuse it. Wen they fail to lay their hand on a blue print movie or hire a whore, they vll get on to the streets to exercise their right. So this is freedom. Ur streets r not safe, ur roads are horrifying ur men r ……….., then y pretend to b humans. Stop this pretence

  21. Tulip says:

    Its so saddening to see and hear people making remarks and talking about religion for such issues… I mean we all are living in a democratic country and have right to do whatever is good for the humanity and I don’t find any crime in forming a ROCK BAND or SINGING… People making absurd comments on facebook or here are showing their own attitude towards their life so I don’t think such sic! comments should have any effect on the wise and freedom lovers…. I congratulate those girls for their performance and feel free and listen to your heart and Just enjoy life… don’t let it ruled by some self oppressed or downhearted thoughts….

  22. Hussain khan says:

    What

  23. Hussain khan says:

    We have to follow our own Islamic Rules not anyother Religion so u people mind your Business no need to worry….

  24. Babur Jhangvi says:

    @ABISHEIKH. U certainly r a moron. U not only proved but acknowledged that the religion u follow is about promiscuity, sex and immorality. Perhaps u people enjoy when ur mothers or sisters shake their legs before a group of unknown admirers whose sex starved eyes follow their body contours.And its done for a mere praise. So sad. Perhaps u enjoy objectifying women under the garb of liberty. Moreover never has a temple devadasi been from upper caste. Y this discrimination. Here u dont want liberty but dignity. Stop harassing schedules and women

  25. rit says:

    I completely agree with prith the only thing we should consider above all religious shit is humanity … get rid of all these byproducts of a male chauvinist society …. women should be treated as human beings .. i believe …. but 90% of the indian population doesnt ….

  26. voiceofthe says:

    Yes this is copied & pasted from previous posts.

    Where ever you try to spew hatred this message will follow it in’Shaa’Allah

    The Holy Quran is the most read Text in the world, it is also the most mis-read, i.e people read it without knowledge of the meaning.

    If the Holy Quran is read with meaning and understood then In’Shaa’Allah many problems of this world will cease to be.

    Currently our ummah is divided and without a clear path. In’Shaa’Allah the ummah will come together soon and lead the way once again.

    Nothing escapes aakhira.. we all must atone and face Allah, this is the only truth in the world.

    I do not believe in the violent means by which our religion is being labeled, but I do believe in fighting against tyranny. for what good are my legs if I am made to kneel forever.

    These attacks against what is being said in the defense of Kashmir & Kashmiris are just that.

    One has to also wonder about the timing of this backlash against Kashmiris by the likes of Sanjeev and the many names the person uses to pander. The BJP run on the platform of division, this is what I see these people doing.

    My message is clear, a believer (a MUSLIM) until he/she interpret the Holy Quran in full meaning and applies that to their life, we will continue to suffer.

    The uneducated and ignorant are easily brainwashed, this enables clerics and muftis to take advantage of a desperate situation.

    If only one person reads this and passes it on to others then Sanjeev & the Kind have done us a service since this message has gone through to someone.

    Let us thank him/them.

    The compulsion to try and get in the last word is well defined in Psychology, known as ‘Takers.’ Islam also prohibits us from trying to get in the last word within an argument.

    My aim here is not to get in the last word, rather present the readers with an option.

  27. Sanjeev says:

    Copy-pasted comment. See my detailed reply elsewhere.

    By the way, this Grand Mufti was recently seen at a Shikara concert organised on Dal Lake, enjoying Ghazals and even applauding them.

    Just like some India-hating Kashmiris who, curiously, find no guilt in working or studying in India while spewing poison against her.

    Seems that double standards come naturally to some people from some communities! I am, of course, not generalising! :) :)

    • Jonah Ryder says:

      You of course are an Idiot! :) :) :)

      Jonah ryder is my name..just as yours is Sanjeev patwardhan… simple :)

      Btw I use your name to prove a point, well…call it a test..

      If there are truly Jihadi elements about India, the bogeymen which you have been conjuring..well it cant be that difficult for them to track you and then…the ol yamraj :) this will prove you correct ol man :) but alas you will not be around to celebrate, as you will be getting a hot load across your cell membrane in the rectum you will back in :)

      • Sanjeev says:

        @ Jonah Ryder

        Your wisecracks would be amusing as a part of a gag-n-skit show on J&K, but they are not worth a reply.

        Ha ha ha. Please stop, lest I die of laughter! :)

        Now if you excuse me, I can address the more serious participants on this forum.

        • Jonah Ryder says:

          Shouldn’t you rid of yourselves for any serious discussion to take place.

          You are being filibustered…get used to it You Fascist PIG!!

          You are once again a few cents short a dollar ol man.

          You response the same way no matter what, its pathetic really.

          ‘jihadi’ this jihadi that..you are creating bogeymen as we speak..

          here this is where I will spam you now…..ready here it is..you know why spamming you is relevant? To denounce the denouncer

          Ran out of lies, deception, coercion and innuendo ??

          Or perhaps you are busy with planning that yamraj visit :)

          Sanjeeev is a Liar, deceiver, & a Charlatan. Confront him with anything he will label your argument as a ‘jihadi’ etc etc.. Him & the like are only in here for to spread malcontent. They are the sort that after the army kills bystanders, terms it ‘alleged killing’ while on the same hand when a few ‘mighty’ gun trotting jawans are killed you hear from them “jawans were butchered” another ploy of the hegemonic beast. He is nothing but a tool.

          what scholarly work has he done, all he does is denounce scholars and those that speak out against the brutality.

          Soon he will be visited by yamraj and be born again as an e-coli inside a homosexuals rectum. This he may enjoy ….here is a smiley face ol man :)

  28. voiceofthe says:

    A warning to steer clear of people such as those that go around spreading hate and demagoguing the kashmiri voice. These so called ‘takers’ are discussed below.

    What are some of the qualities present in most takers?

    25 Warning Signals That You’re Dealing With a TAKER

    They act entitled to whatever they’re taking from you.
    They treat you as an extension of themselves.
    When they hurt or disappoint you they don’t experience guilt, shame or remorse.
    They won’t apologize to you, but will expect you to apologize to them.
    Their wish is your command, and if you don’t comply, you don’t love them.
    They believe their problems are someone else’s fault.
    They believe that you and everyone else are in this world to make them happy.
    When you give to them, they don’t feel compelled to say thank you or be grateful.
    If they feel taken from by you, they become outraged and entitled to become enraged.
    They don’t regret taking from you, but they regret not taking even more from you.
    They need to have the last word in conversations.
    They don’t take turns well.
    They are impatient and hate to wait.
    They interrupt or butt into conversations.
    They act as if they are always right.
    They act as if they are never wrong.
    When they’re frustrated, they feel justified in doing anything to make themselves feel better.
    They won’t tell you specifically what you are doing wrong or ask you directly for what they need— they expect you to read their minds.
    They are stubborn and you may confuse their stubbornness for strength and be attracted to them because of it.
    They aren’t motivated to know, care or do anything unless it gets them something.
    They are quick to ridicule or laugh at others, but have little ability to laugh at themselves or tolerate being laughed at.
    They either cannot or will not put themselves in another person’s shoes.
    They hold everyone else accountable, but evade being held accountable.
    They talk much more than they listen.
    They’ll expect a second, third and fourth chance from you when they hurt you; but they won’t give you a second chance when you hurt them.

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