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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Kashmiri all-girl band gets Omar’s support

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, February 02, 2013
First Published: 18:20 IST(2/2/2013) | Last Updated: 00:34 IST(3/2/2013)

The Jammu and Kashmir government is mulling action against those who issued online threats and abuses to Kashmir's first all-girl rock band 'Pragaash' with chief minister Omar Abdullah expressing serious concern over the matter.

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"The police will examine the threats issued and whether any provision of the law can be used to book those making the threats. #Pragaash (sic)," wrote Omar on micro-blogging website Twitter.

There is a virtual uproar in the valley against the nasty posts pasted on the social networking sites of the rock band ever since it made a public performance in Srinagar last December.

The three-girl band of Class 10 students had decided not to do any public performance following the online threats. The group members were under tremendous pressure to stop public appearance from the frightened parents. But it has denied reports of shelving it's plan to play music in the future.

"We have to brave threats. For time being, the band may not do public performances but will continue with musical albums and continue performances," said Adnan Mattoo, owner of Band Inn musical academy in Srinagar, where these girls are undergoing training to pursue their dream in music.

The three teenagers --- drummer Farah Deeba, guitarist Aneeka Khalid and vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir --- are in New Delhi, lying low after the online abuses shattered them.

The chief minister has also urged the band to continue playing music. "I hope these talented young girls will not let a handful of morons silence them," said Omar.

He said it is shame that "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."

Majority of online netizens in the Muslim-majority state have come forward to support the girls by creating pages on social networking sites and hash tags in their support, isolating the fringe elements behind the act.

"This is a classic case of vicious online abuse in which people think they can get away with anything. The problem is most of these things said on the Internet have ramifications in the real world," said Raheel Khurshid, Director (Communication) India, of online campaign portal change.org.

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