Despite Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s reassuring tweets, the teenage members of the Valley’s first all-girl rock band have gone into hiding soon after receiving a threat of ‘social boycott’ from the Dukhataarn-e-Millat, a radical women’s outfit.
Coming after the ‘fatwa’ from Kashmir’s head mufti, this development has halted all support for the band from civil society and cultural circles.
Left to fend for themselves, the families of Noma Nazir, Farah Deeba and Aneeka Khalid in the vulnerable neighbourhoods of Chhanpora, Bemina and Rajbagh have forced the teenagers to snap their contact with all, especially the media. “We have seized their cellphones and laptops,” two of their relatives told The Hindu . “Their band has been shut.”
“Nobody is safe here. The Chief Minister’s tweets and the police can’t protect us. We don’t want to get caught in politics,” one of them said.
The Dukhataarn has in fact avoided issuing a direct threat to the girls. It has rather innocuously declared that the girls’ continued performance would force the outfit to call for a social boycott of their families. “We appeal to the parents of the band members to ask their children to refrain from singing as it is against Islamic principles. If they don’t follow our advice, we will be forced to announce a social boycott against them,” it said in a statement on Sunday.
The Dukhataarn does not have any history of using firearms. Founded in 1982 by Syeda Asiya Andrabi, the outfit claims to orchestrate ‘peaceful campaigns’ against anything it perceives to be contrary to the tenets, teachings and traditions of Islam. It played a key role in a campaign to close down cinema, video libraries and wine shops, which culminated in the eruption of an armed insurgency in January 1990.