Kashmir's first all-girls rock band, Pragaash, which means light, may fell silent soon. Online threats from conservatives and worried parents are putting pressure on the girls to shun music once for all.
"Ever since they made their first public performance in December last year and won best performance award, there has been online threats. This has left their parents worried. They are pressuring them to stop public performance," said Adnan Mattoo, owner of Band Inn, a musical academy in Srinagar where these girls were undergoing training to pursue their dream in music.
The three girls- drummer Farah Deeba, guitarist Aneeka Khalid and vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, are all Class 10 student and have been barred by parents from speaking to the media. They all are currently in New Delhi.
“I was surprised to see all music bands of Kashmir performing live in front of my eyes. 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,” wrote Deeba on her Facebook wall immediately after her first public performance last year.
The band's performance was a rare departure from the past. Though there are many female singers in the valley, it was first all-girls rock band. Even in the past, female singers have faced tough opposition from the conservative society for singing and their performances on television. Singing and music, particularly by girls, are still not appreciated in the society.
Mattoo, who claims to be in touch with the girls, told the Hindustan Times that they will not give up music. "They may not do public performances anymore but will continue doing musical albums after some time. In every field people get threats in Kashmir. We have to brave it," said Mattoo.
But threats in their case is very serious and misogynist. "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)," was one such post.
"They may quit because of intolerance, rape and murder threats, because of our selectively conservative and hypocritical worldview, because men can issue rape threats to women and no one would call it unIslamic, because men can pinch our butts in the bus and no one would speak up, because men can j@&£ off to item numbers in private but three innocent girls performing in perfectly modest clothing outrages our so-called morality," said Shehla Rashid Shora, a social activist, who has launched a counter online campaign 'I support Pragaash, Kashmir's first all-girls' rock band'.
The campaign has been able to galvanise significant support for the girls rock band in the valley.