Support pours in on social sites for Kashmir all-girl rock band



Srinagar: Support has been pouring in from all corners on social networking sites for the first all-girls rock band of Kashmir after it received abusive and hate messages on its Facebook page for defying convention by choosing the field of music.

At least three pages have come up on Facebook in the past three days throwing their weight behind the three Class X students of Kashmir, urging them not to be cowed down by the hate mongers and continue their band named 'Pragaash' (light).

'I support Pragaash, Kashmir's first all-girls' rock band' is the most popular page with more than 1,000 'likes' since it was created less than two days ago in Facebook.

"I am with u. Follow your passion sincerely and be good. God bless special people with art and you are one of them, that's why everybody is not artist," Kanu Sharma posted on the page.

The all-girls rock band, which came to limelight in late December last year after their performance at the annual 'Battle of the Bands' competition here, had defied the convention by stepping into the male-dominated field of music.

The online threats have left the families of the teenage girls worried and forced them to keep a low profile.

Though there are dozens of bands currently playing music of different genres in the Kashmir Valley, the girls -- vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and Guitarist Aneeka Khalid -- formed the first all-girls rock band under the name of 'Pragaash' (light).

The band had won the best performance award in their first public appearance.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also came out in support of the girls yesterday, saying police will probe the threats. "I hope these talented young girls will not let a handful of morons silence them," he said.

It was a matter of shame for those who demand freedom of speech on social media networks but use it to threaten the girls, Omar said.

"Shame on those who claim freedom of speech via social media and then use that freedom to threaten girls who have the right to choose to sing," he said.

While Omar's support was lauded by most of his followers in Twitter, some questioned his silence on the police action against the Valley's first rapper 'MCKash', who sang about protests and alleged atrocities by security forces in quelling the protests in the summer of 2010.

"I support #pragash the band but if you are talking about freedom of speech, I support #MCKash also. Never saw @abdullah_omar tweeting about that," one Shahid Zor posted on Twitter.

The issue has generated a debate as to whether Kashmiri society is getting influenced by right-wing extremism.

"My Support (to the band). Kashmir is in India, not in extremist supportive Pakistan. We live in the era of technology, we want Indian muslims be ahead of any other Muslim in this world. We want Indians to be on top," another netizen Sree Jith posted.

However, the comment evoked sharp criticism from netizens of Kashmir.

"I think it's a problem of the entire word. Misogyny is not restricted to Kashmir. It's only being recognised here now because people are raising a voice against it. You must've heard about the recent incident in Mangalore where RSS women wing attacked women in a bar who were smoking," Shehla Rashid Shora responded.

"Misogyny is not a prerogative of Pakis. It's everywhere, right from Jhumri Telaiya to Timbaktu. So stop this blame game," another netizen Sara Alam contended.

PTI