After threats and intimidation, Kashmir’s first all-girl band calls it quits

The band has also become an unwitting political tool in the region's ongoing political and religious struggle

Topics: Punk, punk rock, rock and r, women in music, Teenagers, ,

After threats and intimidation, Kashmir's first all-girl band calls it quits (Credit: YouTube)

An all-girl rock band in Indian-controlled Kashmir is breaking up after just one show. Not because of clashing egos or the allure of going solo, per usual rock tradition. Instead, the pressure became too much after violent threats received on social media and a fatwa from a top Muslim cleric have turned the band’s three teenage members into unwitting political tools in the region’s ongoing political and religious struggle.

In a recent interview, the teenagers insisted that they didn’t want to be viewed as fodder for a media narrative about “Muslim girls who break down conservative barriers.” Really, they just want to play music, they said.

Citing influences like Metallica, Cradle of Filth and Green Day, Pragassh (“fist light” in Kashmiri) first came to national attention after placing third in Srinagar’s battle of the bands. “It was awesome and overwhelming. We were getting all this attention and a standing ovation. Then we got other offers to play,” said Aneeqa Khalid, Pragassh’s 15-year-old bass player.

But with growing attention came scrutiny. The girls were trolled on social media and called un-Islamic. One commenter even suggested they could be raped for performing in front of men they didn’t know.

Still, they wanted to keep playing. Dealing with the frustration the best way they could — “I have been so tense about the media hype that I’ve been playing my guitar so hard,” said singer and guitarist Noma Nazir — they considered focusing on recording an album instead of playing live shows to appease critics.

You Might Also Like

Then Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad, Kashmir’s state-sponsored cleric, issued a fatwa ordering the girls to “stop from these activities and not to get influenced by the support of political leadership,” and the pressure simply became too much. On Monday, the teenagers announced they were quitting the band, and Pragassh was no more.

According to the New York Times, Khalid’s mother has said that she and her husband are now afraid to let their daughter leave the house, recalling a recent incident in which acid was thrown on the face of a female teacher in Srinagar.

And while the girls don’t want to be viewed as symbols, the controversy has showcased the complexities of growing up in the midst of the religious, political and factional struggles that continue to plague the region.

Mounting political pressure and their conservative surroundings may have forced the girls to break up their band, but not to put down their instruments. Nazir insists that music remains a passion. “Whenever I’m angry or sad, it helps me to get out of it,” she said in a recent interview. “It’s kind of a rescue.”

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>