Where has all the music gone

In free India an all girl's rock band receives a fatwa from the Grand Mufti of Kashmir stating that  music is bad for the society and women must be under a veil at all times. The Mufti  goes on to say that he urges women in the country to wear the veil at all times and states that women performing in public is the reason for increasing number of sexual assaults. So one cleric urges us to make brothers out of potential rapists to save ourselves, and the other goes on step further by urging us to wear a veil at all time. The police on the other hand suggested we go straight home from school, college, work or whatever activity we pursue. Why not just issue a diktat that says that all women from 9 to 90 should just stay at home to and hence solve all sexual assaults once for all. Somehow the fact that we live in a democracy and have rights enshrined and guaranteed by the Constitution seems to be forgotten.

Sadly the bold brave girls of Kashmir have decided to call it quits: they have decided to quit singing and music. My heart goes out to them. Young school girls with a love for music and loads of talent. Something to applaud and be proud of not be crushed by inane and incomprehensible logic. What harm can little girls do. Once again bigots have hijacked all our constitutional rights. I was all choked up whenI heard the little teenagers say on TV that they had disbanded their band because the Grand Mufti had ordained that music was 'haram' and against Islam. Like all children they submitted to the adult, as they always do. Is that not that tragedy of children in India. But try to imagine what was going on in their mind. Here were three young girls blessed with talent and a passion for music, who must have worked and practiced so hard to reach the competition they participated in, heard the applause and appreciation and then the thrill of winning. How happy they must have been when they shared their joy with their friends on the social networks. And then imagine their horror when abusive messages started pouring in and then a few days later the dikta of the Grand Mufti. And the crashing of all their dreams and their little voices shut for ever. As one of the girls poignantly said: I will now sing for myself. Children are meant to sing, dance and express themselves in every way possible. They should be heard, applauded and encouraged by one and all. What right does any one have to curb their creativity in the name of religion, creed or whatever else they can come up with. And above all these so called protectors of faith are no one to take away anyone's constitutional rights. What is shocking is to see the State pander again and again to such people and groups. An Iranian girl's band performing in Delhi was shocked by the fatwa on the Kashmiri band. Wonder what the Grand Mufti would have to say.

In recent days we have see some disturbing occurrences have taken place across the country. There was of course the ban of Kamal Hasan's film and the FIR against an eminent sociologist. But that is not all. Recently a young painter was forced to take down some of his paintings from an exhibition because it had 'offended' one visitor. What is really disturbing is that the police who normally take forever to register cases, seemed to be on call. Last week in the capital another exhibition became the target of violence. Thankfully the exhibition is still on.

All this is frightening to say the least. Tomorrow someone can walk into a book shop and object to the presence of a book on the shelf and go to the police and object! Where is our freedom of speech. Can we allow it to be hijacked by zealots and so called guardians of morality. We need to raise our voices and counter this dangerous trend.