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Islamists declare fatwa on girls' band

Militants say singing is against Islamic principles

Swati Deb, New Delhi

February 5, 2013

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Police have filed a case against Islamists who posted online death threats targeting an all-girl rock band in Kashmir.

Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad issued a fatwa on Sunday, declaring singing to be un-Islamic after the band Pragaash (Light.) Critics of the band have also posted a series of death threats online.

Dukhataarn-e-Millat, a radical women’s group, has called for a “social boycott” of the band, which came to public attentiuon after performing at a 'Battle of the Bands' competition in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar in December. The women's group has appealed to parents of girls to “ask their children to refrain from singing as it is against Islamic principles” in India’s only predominantly Muslim state.

The federal Home Ministry has directed the state government to “keep close tabs” on those who might want to take advantage of the controversy, according to an official who declined to be named.

Elsewhere in the state there has been criticism of the fatwa, led by Hindu parties.

“This has happened in the past also – there is an attempt at the ‘Talibinzation’ of Kashmir, said said Balbir Punj of BJP, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. "Religious fundamentalists want to run society according to their will.” 

The president of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Mehbooba Mufti, also condemned the threats directed at the band.

“The government should look into the abuses and threats on Facebook. It is a problem that needs to be sorted out,” he said, adding that music was an inherent part of Kashmiri culture.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah condemned the fatwa in a Twitter message and urged the girls not to quit singing because of a “bunch of morons.”

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