Police in Jammu and Kashmir arrested three suspects yesterday for posting abusive comments and threats during an online hate campaign against an all-girl rock band.
“We tracked them down through Internet Protocol addresses and there are many more out there we are looking for,” Afadul Mujtaba, deputy inspector general of police said.
They have been booked under the Information Technology Act and a provision of the state’s own law for criminal intimidation.
The three-member band Pragaash (First light) was forced to split up on Monday following a string of abusive and threatening posts on social media and a fatwa by the state’s most senior cleric calling the girls’ singing “unIslamic”.
Noma Nazir, 15, Aneeqa Khalid, 16, and Farah Deeba, 15, formed the Kashmir Valley’s first all-girl rock band last year.
Pragaash came to prominence in December by winning a “Battle of the Bands” contest in Srinagar.
Despite the threats, the band also won widespread support and police say only around a dozen of the 1,000 comments posted online were found to be abusive.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who had promised action against the offenders, welcomed the arrests.
“The government worked swiftly to ensure that such people who spread hatred are brought to book,” Tanvir Sadiq, spokesman of the ruling National Conference party told NDTV news channel.
“The constitution gives you the right to speak but does not give you the right to intimidate anyone.”
Aneeqa Khalid said at a press conference on Monday that they decided to disband Pragaash in deference to the Grand Mufti Bashiruddin’s fatwa.
She said they were not feeling threatened, but were sad they could no longer pursue their passion.
One member of the band has reportedly left the valley as she was depressed after the raging controversy that hit national headlines.
Meanwhile, a civil society human rights group said they would file a case against the Grand Mufti for issuing fatwas which project the state in bad light internationally.
Pervez Imroze, patron of Jammu and Kashmir coalition for civil society said: “He is a self-appointed religious leader who has been issuing fatwas which project Kashmir and Kashmiris in bad light internationally.”