Pragaash, Kashmir’s First All-Girl Rock Band, Forced to Disband Due to Death Threats
Pragaash is Kashmir’s first all-girl rock band. But if you happened to be traveling in India and decided to head up north to maybe catch a show of theirs, you’d be quite out of luck. Due to death threats brought on by the mere fact they existed, Pragaash have been forced to disband.
Before they were ordered to cease all activity by Kashmir’s state-appointed cleric Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad, the band was made up of Farah Deeba (percussion), Aneeqa Khalid (bass), and Noma Nazir, (vocals and guitar). The teenagers — yes, teen girls who wrote, played, and performed their own songs — first came into the public eye when they placed third in a Battle of the Bands in Srinagar. Then came the backlash from social media, where they were branded “prostitutes” and “sluts.” They were threatened with rape and death, and Ahmad went on record to state, “When girls and young women stray from the rightful path… this kind of non-serious activity can become the first step towards our destruction.” In a photo taken from their performance, all three girls are modestly covered up. They have no garish make-up and their frontwoman has her hair covered as well. But respecting and upholding their religion while still playing music is apparently straying from the path. Because as we all know from the dad in Footloose, music will, in fact, be the end of us all.
While one may be tempted to compare Pragaash to Pussy Riot, a Russian punk collective whose very aim was to attack and revolt against the religious regime of their country, the members of Pragaash are young teenage girls who just wanted a creative way of expressing themselves. They did not seek controversy or attention, and their quick dissolution proves that — and demonstrates how scared they must be.
Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah initially expressed his support of the girls on Twitter — but then he deleted his tweets. Though arrests have been made in connection to those who threatened Pragaash, Abdullah does not believe any legal action is necessary against the Grand Mufti, who publicly declared a fatwa on the girls.
There are no reports if any male participants in this now infamous Battle of the Bands received backlash for straying from their respective paths as well.