Growing hatred

The fatwa issued against the all-girls music band of Kashmir and the threats and intimidations that the three school girls who make up the Pragaash band had to face are completely retrograde. The band has faced strong opposition and condemnation from the grand mufti of Kashmir and there have been calls for social boycott of the girls and their families. The mufti disapproved even music of any kind in society and there were declarations  that the band’s performances are against ethical, moral and religious traditions. The opposition shows the increasingly intolerant and anti-women attitudes that are gaining strength in the state. The girls also received warnings, abuses and threats of rape and murder on social media pages. They were subjected to a sustained hate campaign after their performance in Srinagar three months ago. Ironically the campaign was also alongside the wide appreciation they received from a large section of the general public.

The first-ever women’s band had received the best band prize at Srinagar’s annual music festival ‘Battle of the Bands’ in December. Music has not been unwelcome in Kashmir as in any other society. Public singing and dancing by women have been an important part of social functions in Kashmir’s culture. Some of the most popular performers have been women. Though some obscurantist and conservative sections of the society have not encouraged such performances, they had become an essential part of the culture. Many religious scholars and even some mullahs do not support the grand mufti’s interpretation of tenets and the ban on music. Srinagar had seen birth and rise in popularity of many rock bands in recent years. But the outspoken criticism and obstructionist idiom that the ultra conservative sections are resorting to now are a sign of their increasing confidence.

The Jammu and Kashmir government and the national commission for women have supported the girls’ band. But the girls have decided to stop singing in public though they want to produce an album. The issue is not just one of a regressive cultural attitude but involves the freedom of women to choose their own profession and avocation. Unfortunately these constraints on freedom are not confined to Kashmir. In some other parts of the country too women are not free to dress the way they want, to travel freely and choose the places they want to visit. In most such situations religious tenets and tradition are used as a camouflage for entrenched male supremacist attitudes.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry