Srinagar: After an all-girls rock band in Kashmir has decided against live performances after death threats and hate mail on their Facebook page, across India, musicians, politicians and others are urging them not to give up. (SupportKashmir's all-girls band: comment here)
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told NDTV that he will offer security for the band, but that it is upto them to decide whether they want to play. After the head priest or Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad described the band as "un-Islamic", the chief minister tweeted," Given the importance the people attach to the fatwas of the Grand Mufti, the less said the better." He later deleted that post. When asked why, he told NDTV: "Once there is something on Twitter, even for a minute, it is forever. I put it and then deleted it after I got the reaction I wanted."
The chief minister also said that the mufti is not appointed or paid by the government. Explaining why he hasn't ordered his arrest, the chief minister said, "He hasn't actually threatened them, he just told them to stop," Mr Abdullah said, adding, "Were he to have threatened the security of the girls, then that would have been a different situation."
Pragaash (which means First Light) shot to prominence in December when the trio, who are all in school, won an annual "Battle of Bands" competition held in Srinagar, the state capital.
In recent weeks, the backlash has been unnerving for their families and the girls. Their manager, Adnan Matoo, who also runs musical academy Band Inn, said the teens broke down after seeing the abusive comments online.
Many others point out that Kashmir has a long tradition of women who write and sing poetry, starting with Lal Ded or Lalleshwari, the 14th century poet, whose verses or vaaks are a centrepiece of Kashmiri culture.
(With input from agencies)