We Are Apolitical: Pragaash; Hurriyat (G) Slams Grand Mufti


Srinagar, Feb 4: After getting entangled in a ‘dubitable’ controversy, Kashmir’s only girls’ rock band Thursday decided to quit but not before leaving a message for the people that the band was “apolitical” and they were into music just for fun.
The rock band’s “We Quit” message on the social networking site, Facebook, came a day after Kashmir’s official Grand Mufti; Mufti Bashir-ud-Din issued a decree against the band terming it “un-Islamic.” The Grand Mufti, however, faced stiff criticism not just from the separatist camp but by the ruling National Conference (NC) and the opposition PDP as well. NC while taking the Grand Mufti head-on stated that he was not an official head cleric and that his fatwa had no relevance while PDP termed the raging controversy over the girls’ band as a move to divert attention from crucial issues.
In the afternoon, one of the members of girls’ rock band, Noma Nazir wrote on her Facebook wall— “We Quit.” She reportedly de-activated her account as well. However, on the ‘Pragaash band’s official’ page on the Facebook, a latest post stated: “We are not a political band. We don’t want to tell people what to do or what to think. We just want to entertain.” The page further reads: “Special thanks to J&K Government for its support.”
Talking to Greater Kashmir, the Grand Mufti said he was happy as he managed to stop an un-Islamic activity. “I didn’t want to see our girls becoming easy targets like we saw one in New Delhi,” he said.
He, however, invited wrath from the ruling NC that questioned his credentials by saying that he was not an official Mufti (chief cleric). “He is not the official Mufti. Government doesn’t pay him any salary. NC is a secular party which respects the peoples’ religious beliefs. Nobody can be allowed to infringe on the secular nature of the State,” NC spokesman Tanvir Sadiq said and added; “We believe in a tolerant system. Such statements (fatwas) have no relevance. Kashmir has a great legacy of music in many forms like folk and traditional.”
Sadiq said it was unfortunate that the band has quit. “We urged them not to get bogged down and not to give up,” he said.
Echoing the similar stance, PDP chief spokesman, Naeem Akthar said the party feels some people raked up an unnecessary controversy. “It is a matter of concern as to why such controversies arise. Everybody in Kashmir enjoys the music since decades. I believe making the girls’ band a controversy was a move aimed at diverting the attention from social, economic and political issues,” Akthar said.
Interestingly, Chief Minister Omar had responded to the Grand Mufti’s statement on micro-blogging site – Twitter – “Given the importance people attach to the fatwas of the Grand Mufti the less said the better.”  He, however, removed the tweet later.
The Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani also came down heavily on Grand Mufti stating that the Hurriyat disassociates itself from the Fatwa issued by Mufti Bashir-ud-Din. “People do not recognize him as Grand Mufti (chief cleric). Only the government recognizes him," said Hurriyat (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar. He said decrees issued by Mufti Bashir-ud-Din are mysterious. “The fatwa can only be issued when a nation is governed by Islamic Sharia rule,” he said.
Pertinently, the band ‘Pragaash (morning light)’ consisting of three school girls, vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and Guitarist Aneeka Khalid, performed their first live performance at Srinagar's music festival, Battle of the Bands in December last year. After their performance, some Facebook users uploaded a picture of the performance which generated praises from some and abuses from others on the social networking websites.
PTI ADDS FROM NEW DELHI: Meanwhile, the band today received unflinching support from parties across the political spectrum and women’s organizations who slammed the Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir for calling their singing “un-Islamic”.
Congress, BJP, BJD, National Commission for Women, AIDWA and NFIW were on the “same page” asserting that the controversial fatwa by Mufti Bashir-ud-Din Ahmad would push the society backwards.
“This is wrong. Every one has their own perspective, there are traditions. But I believe that if after so many years of independence, we stop girls from any work, it will be our double standards,” Mamata Sharma, Chairperson of National Commission for Women, said.
“On the one hand we say that both genders should be equal but on the other we put restrictions on girls, that girls cannot do this. I believe this is very wrong,” she added.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh slammed the fatwa and said stopping the all-girls rock band will take the society backwards.
“I have always said that whether it is ideology of the Hindu fundamentalist or Muslim fundamentalist, it will take the country back to 18th century. Congress is a moderate liberal party. We cannot support such things,” he said.
Coming out in support of the rock band, BJD MP Jay Panda said: “I think no body has the right to stop other people from expressing themselves through their music or other cultural activities,” he said.
Echoing Singh's views, BJP MP Najma Heptullah said: “Saying anything in the name of religion does not do any favour to the religion. If you don't like songs, don't listen to them. To stop them (the rock band members) in the name of religion, I don't think it is the right move.”

Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST

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