Zaira Wasim row: Controversy over 'apology', and its deletion, is a case of selective outrage

While Dangal star Zaira Wasim, a 16-year-old Kashmiri who played Amir Khan’s elder daughter Geeta Phogat in the movie, has sparked a storm on social media across the country, the issue has sharply divided the opinion on the political "appropriation" of symbols of individual achievements.

Zaira Wasim. Photo courtesy Facebook

Zaira Wasim. Photo courtesy Facebook

Everything was going well for this Srinagar girl till she met the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, who was quick to describe her as ‘inspiration' for youth of the state, thousands of whom faced the wrath of government forces during last year's five month of civilian unrest in the Valley.

This angered many people on the social media who, while recalling last year's mayhem that resulted in close to hundred civilian deaths and injured thousands of people, blamed the chief minister for playing politics on Zaira's achievement, and painted the issue according to their political and religious convictions.

Kashmir’s charged political atmosphere changes contours of any personal or public feat. Whether it was Shah Faesal, who topped the civil services just after the 2010 uprising or Tajamul Islam, the Under-8 World Kickboxing champion, people in Kashmir view these developments with scepticism. Matters become even worse when politicians of the valley try to link these individual feats with the politics of conflict to cover up their own "failures.”

“I've a problem with @MehboobaMufti trying to usrp other peoples success to cover up her own failures but why punish/troll people she meets?” Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir wrote on twitter.

What snowballed the incident into a political storm was when Zaira quickly deleted her post on Facebook and reposted another version, hours later, insisting that she ‘was not forced’ to write the earlier post and only wanted to make sure that she has not hurt anyone by meeting the chief minister.

Soon enough, the television media and social networking sites exploded in a kind of mass frenzy. Zaira was all over in the headlines and tags like #IStandWithZaira started trending. Conversely, this may also look like a publicity stunt, since there was anger against the chief minister for using people like Zaira to score a political point against her opponents. Surely she was not warned of consequences of her meeting with Mehbooba.

Many people considered that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, of which Mehbooba is the president, attempted to portray Zaira's achievement as it's own success. Mehbooba also talked about her meeting with the actress in legislative council of the state. And thus the drama began to unfold.

“The way J&K govt appropriates talent like in case of Zaira Waseen, it looks Dangal was directed by the PDP and produced by the BJP!,” wrote Naseer Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar, on his Facebook wall.

Another facet of the controversy is that if there were indeed some trolls threatening Zaira, they were giving a perfect opportunity to those who want to portray Kashmir and Kashmiris as anything but tolerant. It also shows the world of selective outrage we live in, wherein Zaira is a perfect role model for the aspiring lot in the valley but Insha, blinded by our soldiers doing patriotic jobs, is not worth remembering.

Gowhar Geelani, a columnist asks a pertinent question in his Facebook post, “Third snowfall this winter season happened only because of the PDP's vision. Insha was blinded by pellets. PDP had no role. It just 'happened'. Zaira Wasim performed in #Dangal. It 'happened' because of the PDP. Her skill set as a brilliant actor had no role. Agenda of Alliance makes sure that our kids win gold in mixed martial arts, and our girls and boys are topping exams because of the PDP. How thankless we are as Kashmiris?”

Published Date: Jan 17, 2017 21:38 PM | Updated Date: Jan 17, 2017 21:38 PM

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