Srinagar, Feb. 5: The guests kept coming. No, they hadn’t been invited, but they streamed in all the same.
Overnight, the two-storey brick house in a posh area of the Valley had become the centre of attraction.
The real centre of attraction, however, knelt inside like a frightened bird. Her mother and another woman hovered around the 15-year-old.
So Praagaash has been disbanded? “Yes,” she whispered.
It was the day after two of the three members of Kashmir’s first — and only — all-girl rock band had called it quits, possibly giving in to the fatwa declared by the Valley’s chief priest, Mufti Bashiruddin, and opposition from the hardline groups.
It was different last week when the girls, all of them teenagers, had shrugged off online threats and vowed to carry on. But not after what the Mufti said yesterday.
“If the girls are interested in singing, they can do it in their families and not before strangers, which is haraam (forbidden) in Islam,” the chief cleric had said.
The visitors, mostly journalists, started trooping in since morning. The Omar Abdullah government also stepped in. A police officer said a case of “criminal intimidation” and causing “inconvenience” and “enmity” had been registered against unknown persons for posted hate messages on the band’s Facebook page. One of the sections invoked is Section 66A of the information technology act.
The action came even as one of the girls said four other boy bands had decided to break up Praagaash. Police sources said they had identified some of these persons and action might be taken soon. On Saturday, Omar had asked the girls not to be silenced by a “handful of morons”.
A PTI report said one of the girls may have left for Bangalore.
Today, some of the visitors included men in uniform who wanted to know if the family was feeling threatened.
The attention appeared to have unsettled the family. “They (the media) have highlighted it too much,” said the girl. The anxiety was palpable. What next? “Nothing,” she mumbled. “It’s over.”
So they have quit because of the threats? “No, because our people (in Kashmir) are not happy with us. The Mufti sahib (Mufti Bashiruddin) said music is un-Islamic. We respect his advice.”
What if there was no fatwa? “We may have continued… not as a career but as a hobby,” she replied.
Her mother interrupted the conversation. “We have landed in a controversy,” she pleaded. “She is too young to answer these questions.”
But the girl wasn’t done yet. Her music silenced, the anger was slowly bubbling to the surface.
“You cannot pursue such things in Kashmir,” she said as more reporters trooped into her house and calls from television channels started coming in. “For that, you have to go outside Kashmir.”
When the three — Noma Bhatt, Farah Deeba and Aneeqa Khalid, all from Srinagar — started their band last year, they had no idea it would end this way.
Their band’s Facebook page said it all: “This is a band of three girls from Kashmir who have a burning passion for music from their childhood… We were crazy for music from our childhood, we used to sing, and used to be musicians by making drum beats on pillows and guitar!! oh! it was bigger than our size,” it said.
It isn’t clear if any action will be initiated against the Mufti. “That can lead to a law-and-order situation in the state,” said an official.