The Grand (standing) Mufti of Kashmir

Kashmir Grand Mufti

That doesn't deter Mufti Bashir. "I was recognised by the Sheikh (Mohammad Abdullah) sahib and all the governments," he said. "Was I the grand Mufti when I supported Sheikh sahib and not now?"

The "Supreme Court of Islamic Shariah", too, is of recent origin. In the "court", the Mufti's decrees are read out by his "deputy", Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam. Nasir is Mufti's son and his post equally self-styled — Nasir was appointed by Bashir soon after his return from Abu Dhabi last year, where he was working.

The separatists in the Valley have refused to accept the Mufti's decrees, saying these have no religious standing as he is part of the official machinery.

What is not in doubt is that the Mufti wields considerable clout. He is the state head of the Muslim Personal Law Board and remains most closely identified with the ruling NC. In fact, when Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday tweeted about the Mufti's decree on the girls' band, he had to delete the tweet within half an hour.

While he may see something un-Islamic about music, the Mufti obviously is not against all things foreign. Nasir's sons have studied in Switzerland, Canada and Dubai while his wife works as a senior scientist in Abu Dhabi. Mufti's other son was appointed as a senior government servant during Girish Chander Saxena's rule as Governor.

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