Srinigar - Three people have been arrested in Indian-controlled Kashmir for allegedly threatening the first Kashmiri all-girl rock band, which disbanded after its debut concert after abusive comments on social media and a demand from a top Muslim cleric that they stop performing.

The three had been booked for criminal intimidation and violating internet laws, police officer Afadul Mujtaba said. If convicted, they could be jailed for up to seven years each.

The controversy over the band Pragaash, or “First Light”, highlights the simmering tension between modernity and tradition in Muslim-majority Kashmir, where an armed uprising against Indian rule and a crackdown by government forces have killed more than 68 000 people since 1989.

Police are looking for at least a dozen other people whose comments were abusive. However, no action has been taken against the cleric for describing the girls' band as a non-Islamic activity.

The arrests came as one of the band members told India's CNN-IBN channel that the group had decided to stop singing because of the cleric's edict, and not merely because of the online abuses. “Everything was going fine till the fatwa was issued,” she said, referring to the cleric's order. –