Online threats and pressure from religious and radical groups forced the Kashmir Valley's first all-girls rock band to disband but it has not dampened the spirits of many among the fairer sex, who want to pursue a career in music and singing.
This was evident from the fact that as many 10 girls out of 25 singers made it to the finale of 'Choona Hai Aasmaan' (Reach the sky) Season Three held here on Thursday.
"We are not worried about the threats (issued by religious and other groups). Singing is my passion and I will sing whenever I get a chance," Sabiya Shah, one of the contestants who made it to the finale, said.
The sizeable participation of girls in the singing talent hunt competition comes less than three months after 'Pragaash' (light), the first all-girls rock band of Kashmir, was forced to disband.
The 10th-class students -- vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and guitarist Aneeka Khalid -- had formed the band and performed in December last year with a scintillating performance at the annual 'Battle of the Bands' competition here and won the best performance award in their first public appearance.
However, within days after their performance, the band started receiving online threats and absurd comments which was followed up with a 'fatwa' (religious decree) issued by Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad.
The girls decided not to sing in the wake of Mufti's decree.
Sabreeka Nabi and Kulsooma Gul, two other female participants in today's competition, said they were not feeling insecure in view of what happened to 'Pragaash'.
"Music and singing is a way of expressing someone's talent. I do not think anyone should have problems with it," Sabreeka said.
The two girls, however, refused to comment on the 'fatwa' issued by the Grand Mufti, who had termed singing as "unIslamic".
'Choona hai Aasman' is a talent hunt programme run by Jammu and Kashmir police as part of its civic action plan.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Abdul Gani Mir said the youth of the Valley had been through a lot of disturbances during the last two decades.
"We want to provide them opportunities to express themselves, not only in the field of music, but in arts and sports as well," he said.