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Mir Ehsan , RIFFAT MOHIDIN : Sat Feb 02 2013, 03:12 hrs, IE

They called their band ‘Pragaash’ — to mean from darkness to light. Kashmir‘s first all-girl rock group is now struggling to find some of that hope. Following threats and criticism on social networking sites, its three Class 10 members have decided to stop live performances in the Valley for some time.

Farah Deeba, Aneka Khalid and Noma Nazir started receiving the threats soon after Pragaash’s first live performance, at Srinagar‘s Battle of the Bands — an annual music festival — in December last year. They had been written about following the performance, and their interviews appeared on news channels.

Since then, Pragaash had held several live shows in the city.

“As a section of the society criticised the girls after their first live performance in the city, we told them to quit the band,” Deeba’s mother said.

“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 said.

Khalid said they would continue to pursue music though, while giving up live performances.

Incidentally, none of these threats has come from any militant organisation.

It was in August last year that Deeba, Khalid and Nazir met at a local music institute, Band Inn, and soon joined hands to form Pragaash. While Nazir, 16, is the vocalist and guitarist, 15-year-old Khalid is the bass guitarist and Deeba, also 15, the drummer.

After the Battle of the Bands, where they competed against dozens of male bands, the three had said their families supported their unusual vocation. Pragaash had come in third at the contest, and had received invitations to perform in several parts of the country.

Among the criticism dumped on the girls on a Facebook page named ‘Kashmir News’ was that they had brought shame upon their society.

However, the girls continue to have supporters. There is now another Facebook page — ‘I support Pragaash — Kashmir’s First All-Girls Rock Band’.