Facing public pressure, the police on Tuesday lodged an FIR against those who started online abuse and issued rape threats to the Valley's first all-girl rock band, Praagaash.
A case has been registered against anonymous Internet users under Section 66 A of the IT Act and Section 506 of the RPC (criminal intimidation) in Srinagar's Raj Bagh police station. The Kashmir's lone cyber cell, too, has joined hands with the police to crack the case, which will be pursued by a special investigation team headed by a senior police officer.
Sources said the police have already started investigation and the process of identification was on of those who first pasted nasty comments on Facebook's news page in December 2012, immediately after the band's first public performance in Srinagar.
The police have procured all the screen shots of several news and private pages of the FB users to enforce arrests of those involved.
"We hope for a breakthrough soon," said a police officer on the condition of anonymity. The police are sieving through hundreds of comments to dig out the on-line nasty abuses, grave threats and the direct mails issued to the girls.
Though the first abusive thread has been removed from the FB news page, the police are looking for the news page admin and many other unregistered news-circulating pages.
Sources said chief minister Omar Abdullah-led government is also mulling to regulate news-circulating FB pages and keep an eye to avoid any eventuality as in the case of the rock band in the future.
Since the band's first performance last year, the Class 10 girls of the rock band started receiving online abuse and threats, forcing them to shelve their plan to do a public performance in the Valley. The crisis for the girls snowballed when an online portal last week claimed the girls have decided to quit music and are in hiding in Delhi, attracting the country-wide media attention.
Initially, with swelling online support, the girls decided to continue playing music. However, in the face of fatwa issued by the government-backed grand priest Mufti Basheeruddin, the girls on Monday said they quit and disbanded the rock group.
All the the girls - vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and guitarist Aneeka Khalid - have been avoiding the media ever since the controversy started.
Women separatists come out in support
The separatists, however, have distanced themselves from the fatwa and assured the girls there was no threat to them. "There is no threat to the girls. Nobody has issued any threats. It is a mere propaganda by the media," said hardline Hurriyat Conference spokesman Ayaz Akbar.
Moderate Hurriyat's all-women separatist group, Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM), too has thrown its support behind the girls.
"The entire male leadership has plunged into issuing fatwas and concerning itself with obscure teen girls' music band and made it a centre point of the value system of the society. We in Kashmir believe in freedom of expression of art. Music and grace that suits and defines our nation. It's shameful how some Indian media is trying to malign Kashmir's integrity," said Anjum Zamrud Habib, head of the MKM.
Hardline women group, Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi, has backed the fatwa issued by the mufti. "The fatwa, which is an opinion based on Islamic teachings, is right in the context it is issued. It's not based on gender discrimination as music and dancing is prohibited for both men and women in Islam," she said, adding, "she has not given any social boycott call against the families of these girls as portrayed by the media."