Kashmir's Tibet Baqaal family says they are tortured for keeping Sufi tradition alive

Aadil Tibet Baqaal, 40, teaches music in the Kashmir University's Institute of Music and Fine Arts, keeping up the tradition of his legendary grandfather, Mohammad Abdullah Tibet Baqaal whose voice still continues to stir hearts and minds of Kashmiris cutting across religious barriers.

The rendering of a Hindu hymn written by Krishan Joo Razdan in parise of Lord Shiva by Mohammad Abdullah Tibet Baqaal is so soulful that both Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits still regard it as an invaluable proof of the centuries old Hindu-Muslim amity of Kashmir.

Today, Aadil is a tormented inheritor of a legacy that would otherwise make any Indian proud of his ancestry.

Shocked, shaking with fear, Aadil narrated his woeful story to IANS in a choked voice.

"We have been living in tension in our locality in the Soura area of Srinagar for many years since the hardening of postures started between the followers of hardline school of thought called the 'Salfai school' and the softline called the 'Sufi school'.

"Our painful story is not essentially a fight between these two established schools of Islamic thought as I believe followers of both must respect each other's viewpoint.

"To give religious legitimacy to their personal malice, some miscreants are trying to convert it into a fight between the Salfis and the Sufis.

"They have branded our family as a family of singers and musicians who these rogues claim have no right to exist.

"On October 22, this year my younger brother, Abid was to get married and it was his 'Mehndi Raat'. These goons entered our house and started beating up everybody, including children and women.

"We had some relatives who had come to attend the ceremony and their womenfolk and children were also ruthlessly beaten.

"We complained to the local police station and they took Aadil along with them saying that he was under threat from these goons and the police would keep him in police station for some time. We had to perform the 'Nikah' ceremony of Aadil and his bride the same day.

"Police did not allow Aadil home. We sent the Molvi Sahib and two witnesses to the police station so that they take consent from the groom for performing the 'Nikah' ceremony as per the Islamic tenets.

"They were not allowed to meet Aadil that evening who was allowed home at 1 a.m. on October 23.

"He had been tortured and beaten. The next day, Aadil had to go to get his bride. These goons camped in the street outside our home saying that they would not allow the groom to come out and get his bride.

"They claimed to be from the local mosque which they control, that they were trying to save the life of the bride who would lose her 'Imaan' (Islamic faith) if she was married into a family of singers and musicians whom they considered as 'Infidels'.

"During the dead of the night, some of Aadil's friends managed to carry him to the bride's home. It was a trauma we can never forget", Aadil said.

His 66-year old father, Mohammad Ashraf Tibet Baqaal and 60-year old mother sounded more frightened than Aadil.

The family alleged that they approached senior police officers who have not helped them get an FIR registered against those who have made their lives miserable.

Aadil believes that even after mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley, the Tibet Baqaals are trying to keep the tradition of religious tolerance and Sufist music alive in Kashmir.

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