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Pragaash calling it quits is evidence that the J&K CM again failed to back his words with action
Harried by censure and support alike, Kashmir's first girl-band, Pragaash, called it quits on Monday. That it came a day after the grand mufti of Kashmir condemned singing as "un-Islamic" is distressing. That it came two days after Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted the hope that the "talented young girls" would not let "a handful of morons silence them" is even more so. A chief minister's protestations of support and his tweeted intention to order a police probe into threats against Pragaash were evidently not enough to reassure the band. Perhaps this is not surprising. On far too many issues, Abdullah's eloquence hasn't been matched by results on the ground.
After the three teenagers made a splash last December, they became the centre of a social networking maelstrom, with some abusing and threatening them, others starting Facebook pages in support. This put a stop to their live performances. Abdullah's tweets appear to have done little more than to sharpen and escalate antagonisms, drawing retorts from the Mufti and Hurriyat hardliners. If his support fails to convince now, it could also be because on the subject of outrage, the CM has been found rather selective. When Kashmiri rappers like MC Kash and Hazekay were targeted, he remained silent. Neither does he find the government ban on local news and entertainment channels, in place since the protests of 2010, inconsistent with the principle of freedom of speech. The current instance also fits into a pattern of overstatement and retraction, whether it is promising to have the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act revoked from Kashmir in 2011 and then hedging on it, or pussyfooting on the devolution of powers to, and greater security for, panchayats, whose members continue to feel threatened by militants and abandoned by the government.