Kashmiri Girl Rockers Disband Over Threats

Teen group sets off backlash
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 5, 2013 4:56 PM CST
Kashmiri Girl Rockers Disband Over Threats
In this Dec. 23 photo, members of Kashmir’s first all-girl rock band, Pragaash, or First Light, perform at the annual 'Battle of the Bands' in Srinagar, India.   (AP Photo)

The first all-girl rock band in Indian-controlled Kashmir has decided to disband after only one concert because of threats its teenage members received on social media and a demand from a top Muslim cleric that they stop performing. The fate of Pragaash, which means "First Light" in Kashmiri, highlights the simmering tension between modernity and tradition in Muslim-majority Kashmir, where an armed uprising against Indian rule and a relentless crackdown by government forces have killed more than 68,000 people since 1989. Separatists criticized the band for what it said was "Western-style cultural waywardness."

Adnan Mattoo, the rock group's music teacher and manager, said the three high school students who formed Pragaash—drummer Farah Deeba, bass guitarist Aneeqa Khalid, and singer and guitarist Noma Nazir—won't talk about their decision to disband and what led to it. "They feel terribly scared and want an immediate end to this controversy once and for all," Mattoo said. Pragaash performed in public for the first time in December in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir. It won third place in an annual "Battle of the Bands" rock show. Many commenters backed the girls, but others were abusive, calling them "sluts" and "prostitutes" and demanding that they and their families be expelled from the region. (Read more Kashmir stories.)

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