Kashmiri all-girl rock band should still be rocking

05 February 2013 - 15:13 By Nikita Ramkissoon
Image: Nikita Ramkissoon

Music has always been used as a tool of protest. Whether it’s been for our right to freedom or to party, it’s been the weapon of the people.

Sometimes it’s been effective, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s been so strong, it’s shaken entire regimes. Sometimes it’s just been a couple of barefoot hippies just creating music and sweet-smelling smoke, but the reality is that music is and always has been a way of not effecting social change, but invoking people to effect social change.

This we know.

But when a band lays down their guitars and says: “We’re done, the man has won”, the man has indeed won.

An all-girl teenage rock band called Pragaash from Kashmir decided to split after a Muslim cleric declared their music to be "un-Islamic" and issued a fatwa on them.

One man. One idly piddly little man said one thing against them and they said: “Okay. Let’s quit then.”

(I am by no means blaming the kids here for the idiocy of the Imam here – that’s an issue for another day.)

Not only did the music die, the movement died too. What those girls meant to other girls all over Kashmir died when they put down their instruments.

The three-piece group whose members are still in high school, and even though they had been the target of a hate campaign ever since winning a battle of the Bands contest last December, they have more then 3 000 supporters on Facebook alone and possibly more supporters who are not online.

They have support of people who need these girls to speak up for them. They’re doing something so great. They’re not just playing music. They’re breaking the mould.

They’re breaking through barriers that need to be broken with every note they play!

There’s a heavy metal band from Iraq called Acrassicauda who were on the run from their home country after facing threats against their lives, and had to worry about the safety of their families and relatives.

They fled to Syria, Turkey and then the US.

Granted, they were a lot older and male. But they did it. They now live in the US and inspire other metal bands in Iraq.

These guys had to do what they did, and they have to keep doing it, else nothing would change.

The girls are by no means to shoulder an entire generation of women’s rights here – they are just teenage girls and should finish school and empower themselves. But they should give that one final push.

If they find that after every effort is exhausted that they cannot go on and calling it quits is the only way, then I can hand it to them for trying.

This is one idiot of a man and with a fatwa.

Writer Salman Rushdie has had a fatwa on his head since 1988.

At the end of the day, the music should speak louder than the hate.