The maiden fashion show in Kashmir sets the ball rolling… A special report Khadeeja Qayyum
Kashmir fashion broke the jinx. Everything is possible in Kashmir now. The maiden fashion show, organised by the All Jammu and Kashmir Youth Society (AJKYS), at Tagore Hall in Srinagar opened a new chapter in the history of Kashmir. Who would have thought few years ago that this too is possible in Kashmir! 10 designers and 22 models of Kashmir participated with top designer Rajdeep Ranawat. Prominent cultural activist Sajid Yousuf Shah inaugurated the event.
The AJYKS, an NGO, has broken the shackles and it can pave the way for many more such shows being held in Kashmir in the near future. The ball has started to roll. For young boys and girls in Kashmir modeling has always been a difficult option. All aspiring models cannot afford to visit Mumbai and other metropolitan cities to chase their dreams.
After the abrogation of Article 370—which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir—many things have changed in the newly carved out union territory. New Delhi has changed its priorities by shifting its focus from a handful of Kashmir based leaders to a common man. Empowering youth and providing them with more opportunities have been the thrust areas.
The change is visible but a few elements are finding it hard to come at terms with the changing trends in the Valley. Young girls coming forward to participate in the fashion show has proven it beyond doubt that Kashmir’s generation-next is keen to tread on the path of peace, prosperity and development.
One fails to understand how come organizing a fashion show is an immoral act? Such shows are held across the world, including Pakistan and the Gulf countries, if these shows are moral in Muslim countries then how come a show held in Srinagar is immoral?
Kashmiri youth are within their rights to live their lives in a way they want and no one can dictate terms to them. The females who want to wear burqas can go ahead with it. No one will ask them why they are in a veil? But no one has given them a right to prevent others from taking part in the events that can prove to be stepping stones in their careers.
The fashion show triggered a row in the Valley as around 30 to 40 females took out a silent protest march against the event along the Boulevard Road on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar. The protesters claimed that they were not affiliated with any organisation and hit the streets voluntarily. However, media reports said that the cleric from Central Kashmir’s Budgam district had organized the march.
A KAS officer while reacting to the march wrote: “Strongly condemn such acts. Everyone has a right to live his life the way he likes.”
Prominent journalist Aditya Raj Kaul tweeted: “And the radical Islamist are up in arms against the Fashion Show with ‘My Burqa, My Pride’ posters to push back Kashmir. Thirty Burqa clad women, who don’t want art, cinema, theatre, fashion, cafes or progress. Just want violence and hatred. Hope Kashmir gets a cinema hall soon.”
Fatwa on rock band
In 2012 three teenage girls, Nooma Nazir, 16, Ameena Khalid, 16 and Farah Deeba 15, had formed Pragaash—a Sufi-rock girl band. But the then proclaimed Grand Mufti of Kashmir, late Mufti Bashiruddin, who used to claim to be a sole custodian of the Supreme Court of Islamic Shariat’ in the Valley, had issued a fatwa (religious edict) advising the girls and their families to “stay within the limits of modesty as prescribed for them.”
The band was silenced before it could even properly appear on the scene.
The three teenage students of Srinagar’s Presentation Convent, had mesmerized the audiences at their first stage performance on December 24, 2012. The event was organized by a Srinagar based cultural group “Valley Youth Expression” with funds from the Central Reserve Police Force. But after their performance these girls were trolled and threatened on social media, which led to these budding artists calling it a day.
Since 2012 lot of water has flown in Jehlum. The henchmen of separatists and radical elements have lost their addresses. In “Naya Kashmir” many young artistes, including girls, have proven their mettle in the recent past. These artistes are participating in stage shows, performing during wedding functions and other cultural events. The videos of their performances have gone viral on social media. These budding artists are spreading love and music. They seem least interested in preaching hatred and violence.
Dukhtaran Terror Over
Prior to August 5, 2019—when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcated erstwhile J&K State into two union territories— radical women organization headed by Asiya Andrabi, who along with her aides is lodged at Tihar Jail in New Delhi at present—was infamous for raiding parks, restaurants and throwing acid on women for not observing purdah. But as on date there are no such organizations active in the Valley. The terror of the women group has ended. It has allowed the females who want to move on with their lives to come forward and showcase their talent. As on date the schools in the Valley hold special music classes for the students and encourage them to participate in the events which would turn them into confident human beings, who won’t succumb to any threats or fear.
The fashion show organized by the AJKYS in Srinagar triggered a debate but the voices in favour of the event indicate that Kashmir has changed in the past one and half years and no one can stop Kashmiri youth from competing with their counterparts across the country. The fashion show at Tagore Hall is a beginning there is lot more in offing for the youth, who during the past three decades were turned into cannon fodder by extremists to keep the pot boiling in the Valley. Kashmir is on the move and youth are leading from the front.
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