A Girls Band And A Media’s Baja

Bilal Handoo

As the reams of newsprint were consumed to report and analyze the sudden “threat” received by the Valley’s only girl band making Chief Minister Omar Abdullah coming to their rescue on twitter, the people are surprised as where the threat is? As the “controversy” is snowballing into a “crisis”, the girl-trio might be feeling scandalized and a society apparently condemned for intolerance.

Pragaash (the morning light), as the three girls have named their rock-band have only admitted that “some people” on social networking site Facebook ridiculed their passion for music by calling it “moral deviation” on their part. Barring “hateful comments”, they have not talked about any threat, so far.

The three girls are being trained by Adnan Matoo who runs a music training centre. “Whenever a new thing happens in a society especially related to music and fashion, such things happen,” Matoo was quoted saying by media. He, however, said the girls wept after going through the hate mails.

The band came into prominence last year when they enthralled audience in a local music event in Srinagar, for the first and the last time. Prior to that they have performed within the confines of their school premises, which is otherwise a routine as cultural activities are part of extracurricular activities in all schools. The only other activity attributed to the band is their keenness to have an album.

The “controversy” triggered after a website came up with an “exclusive” report suggesting that Kashmir’s only girls rock band has decided to shun their affair with music. It cited numerous Facebook comments and termed them as “threats”. The report skipped seeking response from the band. Within days, another local news website negated the report by quoting one of the Pragaash members saying: “we aren’t quitting.”

“Please don’t heed the rumours , there is a misunderstanding. We did not quit,” informed the base guitarist in the band, Aneeqa on her Facebook page on Friday soon after the reports claimed that girls have succumbed to the hate comments they received on Facebook.

Another member of band Praggash Noma Nazir was quoted recently by the same news portal saying she received some hate mails which she ignored without reading too much out of it. “Those who made these hate comments don’t represent the whole Kashmir. People appreciate us,” said the vocalist of the band, Noma. The third member of this band is Farah Deeba, a drummer. All the three girls are class ninth students and are under 16-yrs-old.

Both the girls maintained that they were underground for the time being to record the songs and not because of so called ‘threats’ they receive.

But a molehill was already made out of the mole. “Threats” were already reported almost everywhere without making a distinction between criticism, hateful comments and the threats. The reportage suggested that they had cancelled their performances as if they had scores of events lined up.

It was weekend and the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah reacted. With a firsthand experience of how a hateful personal abusive campaign forced him out of blogging a few years back, Omar promised a police probe in this case.

“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,” tech savvy Omar wrote on Twitter. “The police will examine the threats issued and whether any provision of the law can be used to book those making the threats (to the rock band).” He hoped the talented young girls will not let a handful of morons silence them.

Apparently, Chief Minister was swayed by the reports appearing in a section of the media. Even he skipped hunting for the substance that makes a threat. With Chief Minister on record, the police is reported to have started investigations in the “case”. It was not immediately known what is the status of the investigations, so far.

But that was not the end of the story. Once something happens, there are lot many people who tend to get a bit of media attention. Reactions started. While lot many “came out” in support of the little girls band, there were many who decided to be on the other side of the divide – all for their share in the cake.

On Sunday Hurriyat Conference (G) reacted saying civilized society lack scope and space for coercion and force. Yet, it said, there are some values a citizen has to adopt to safeguard the ethical, moral and religious traditions.

Soon a decree came from Bashir-ud-Din, the self styled Mufti Aazam of Kashmir. “Such trivial acts (singing and playing instruments) never develop a society but are a first step to demolish its moral fabric,” this cleric was quoted saying. “They should stop from such activities and not to get influenced by the support of political leadership.”

Between the lines in the twin Sunday statements, the “threats” apparently were justified.

But insiders in the music industry assert the ‘controversy’ is inconsequential. They do not see a threat anywhere. The celebrated singer of the Valley, Waheed Jeelani clearly refuted the ‘threat’ claims, saying it is the case of personal rivalry. “Kashmiri society is never against the female artists, it is an action of certain individuals who might not be digesting the instant fame of these young girls,” says Waheed who has performed with number of female artists throughout his over-two-decade career.

“I along with my female colleagues have performed in the most hostile conditions when militancy was at the peak, but even during that time no such threat was received by any of my female colleagues,” Jeelani asserted. He has a bit of advice for the trio:”Don’t take it on your heart, keep your passion intact.”

Same advice was repeated by spokesman of state’s principal opposition Naem Akhtar for the three girls.  “Before calling it a threat, one should look it in a broad perspective,” Akhter said. “It is not the collective verdict of society against these girls and everyone of us should not make much out of it.”

It is already raining. Warm up. Put on radio and listen Raja Begum!


  1. There is something fishy going around ,
    why is every one claiming it an all Girls rock band……..
    Ist of all its not first female band there are others before these kids who have been performing since years, besides they dont know ist thing about rock, having a guitar and playing justin beiber songs doesnt make u any u any of a rock band….
    i mean common there is not a single rock band worth in kashmir..
    there are some musicians who have learnt playing rock, but there is no such a band………….

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