Members of Kashmir's first all-girl rock band 'Pragaash' (meaning light) have decided to call it quits after the Valley's Grand Mufti (head priest) Mufti Bashir-ud-Din issued a fatwa (decree) against them.
The band had earlier decided to stop live performances briefly after receiving threats and criticisms on social networking sites.
"Yes, I issued the fatwa...They can sing inside their homes. They should not sing in public," Mufti Bashir-ud-Din said.
Earlier, the girls had temporarily suspended their live performances after receiving the threats including rape threats, following their first live performance at Srinagar in December.
Formed in 2012, the three-member band is comprised of Noma Nazir, Farah Deeba and Aneeqa Khalid.
"We will stay quiet for some time as we were threatened by people on Facebook and on the phone directing us to stop this band, or to face the consequences," Nazir had said.
The decision of Pragaash once again draws attention to the concerns over freedom of expression in India. Recently, several worrying instances of forced close-downs and bans on artistic works have surfaced, suggesting that Indian society is increasingly becoming intolerant.
The band, however, received support from Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who said the girls should not allow 'a handful of morons silence them'. "Shame on those who claim freedom of speech via social media and then use that freedom to threaten girls who have the right to choose to sing," Omar tweeted.
The girls also received support from netizens who created a page on popular social networking site Facebook named: 'I support Pragaash, Kashmir's first all-girls' rock band'.
The band members said sorry if they have offended people and that ‘the people’ were unhappy with their music. They’ve said that they will no longer play in order to respect the religious ruling against them.