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5th February '2013
Rock for “AZADI”!

The latest Indian electronic media craze about Kashmir these days is the all-girls rock band gyrating to western tunes. The controversy has been deliberately snowballed by the ever watchful media channels ready to catch at any straw which may derail Kashmir’s popular movement. Unfortunately, the dumb leadership has taken the bait swallowing the hook, line and sinker! No religion prohibits music. Yes, there is a prohibition on obscenity, licentiousness, indecency and so on. Music has been part of life all over the world in all communities including Muslims. The Arabs sing and dance. The Turks sing and dance. And above everything else Kashmiris have been singing and dancing for ages irrespective of religion.

The Rouf, the Chakri, and the wedding songs have been part of our culture in all ages. Kashmiri peasants including women sing while working in the rice fields. In every village young girls sing and dance on many occasions including weddings. They perform some typical dances including Hak Chi Chi! The love songs of the famous Kashmiri queen Habba Khatoon are known to every Kashmiri woman. In fact, she was the author of the Romantic School of poetry called the lol, (the love which develops in separation) in Kashmir. The other School is the sufiana poetry and music. One cannot banish the entire history of music just by issuing a Fatwa. Here it may be mentioned that when Prophet (PBUH) entered Medina, he was greeted with music and singing!

In fact, music is a powerful tool of expressing one’s feelings and also highlighting the sufferings of the people. The famous song “Try not to cry” by Sami Yusuf about the sufferings of Kashmiris has been viewed by millions on the YouTube. It has very powerfully conveyed the message of the pain Kashmiris have been experiencing during last couple of decades. There are many other musical pieces which have been produced by musicians and singers from different parts of the world in support of the popular Kashmiri movement for “Azadi”. We all have welcomed these musical expressions of our suffering.

Most of the people in India have been accepting Kashmiris as they are with their culture and music. However, there are certain sections which have been trying to Indianise Kashmiris by Sanskritisation. All these attempts have failed to make Kashmiris forget their traditions and culture although they have adapted to some Indian ways of life style. It is virtually impossible to make a people completely forget their traditional ways. They may modify and adapt these but not completely forget these. One of the main hurdles in complete Indianisation has been very perceptible threat people feel from the extreme right Hindutva movement in India.

The newest trend to overcome these inherent objections for the amalgamation of the youth is the adaption of the western culture especially the music, life style, food and so on. Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds, disco music and rock bands have no religion, culture, colour or any other handicap. These are universal attributes of the 21st century tech savvy youth. However, these people are just a fringe of the population, mostly from the elite and the middle class. The mass of the youth remain untouched by these goodies.

We have over half a million educated unemployed youth who are not rocking to band music but to the employment advertisements issued from time to time. They are ready to take on any jobs including policing. For any on spot recruitment announced by the police or paramilitary thousands turn up. In view of this, to snowball this controversy touching only a fringe of the population does not make any sense. The most ridiculous thing is the Indian media and some civil society members charging Kashmiris for curbing the expression of freedom of these girls! This must be the joke of the year. Kettle calling the pot black! The phrase “Freedom of Expression” has been taken out from all the lexicons in Kashmir. We cannot express anything anywhere anytime. We have modified Gandhi Ji’s triple phrase in Kashmir to, “See nothing, hear nothing, and speak nothing”!

There is a catch in the snowballing controversy which can turn things upside down. What happens if as an anti-climax, the girls start rocking and singing for “Azadi”? Like the Junoon group which became most popular after they sang the most famous patriotic song, “Dil dil, jan jan, Pakistan”, the girls too may become the most popular group all over Kashmir and beyond and the electronic media demonising Kashmiris may have muck thrown at their faces!

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