Her character won hearts and medals in Dangal. Dangal’s Geeta Phogat, played by Kashmiri actor Zaira Wasim, wrestled against her sister, male wrestlers, decades of patriarchy & misogyny to emerge triumphant. Wasim too faced her fair share of trials and tribulations. A Facebook user had last month suggested that Wasim was being targeted by a regressive group called “Fakhr-e-Kashmir”and some people from the “Koshur community” for acting in a “polluted” medium and acting against “religious norms” and bringing shame and disgrace to entire Koshur community.
That storm had passed, but now it seems Wasim is caught in another storm. Wasim, in Facebook post (edit: Wasim seems to have now deleted the Facebook post), offered an apology to all the people who had been “offended and displeased” by her “recent actions” or by “the people she has recently met.”:
She has not explicitly stated anything but it appears that she is alluding to her recent meeting with Jammu & Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti on 14th January 2017. While it is normal for any actor to meet the CM of her state, we must remember this is Kashmir. Sachnews Jammu Kashmir a major news network in J & K reported about this meeting on Facebook, and some of the comments do not show a pretty picture:
It appears that after Mohammad Shami’s wife, another female muslim in the public gaze has been caught in the abusive posts of radical Islamic bigots, who will no doubt be branded as “trolls” by mainstream media. The comments targeted Zaira for being a poor role model by doing un-Islamic acts like acting in movies. But since this is Kashmir, there were more angles to this event besides the now usual religious bigotry.
While Zaira was being attacked religious fanatics, J & K CM Mufti too was being attacked for different reasons:
And caught in the cross-fire was Zaira too, as hate directed towards Mufti spilt over to her as well:
The above extremely vile and hateful comments towards both Mufti and Zaira Wasim were seen on a Facebook page named “Mazloom Koshur”. While Mufti being a seasoned politician may have become immune to such filth, it was too much to bear for Wasim, who is just of 16 years old. This probably explains why Wasim virtually broke-down in her apology letter.
Did she claim that she should not be considered a role model and in that she wasn’t proud of what she was doing, because of the above comments?:
The first and foremost thing is that I am being projected as a role model for Kashmiri Youth. I want to make it very clear that I do not want anyone to follow in my foot steps or even consider me as a role model. I’m not proud of what I’m doing and I want everyone, especially the Youth to know that there are real role models out there whether they be in this time or in our history. To even consider me as a role model would be disgracing them and their disgrace would be OUR DISGRACE!
Further, her statement that the real role models for Kashmiri Youth are “out there whether they be in this time or in our history” is rather cryptic. We only hope she is not alluding to the separatist jihadi terrorists who are “out there”, whether alive (in this time) or dead (in our history).
All in all, it is indeed a troublesome to see a young muslim woman female actor from Kashmir get so much hate for just doing a job. Recently, there were some in Bollywood like Anurag Kashyap who had asked Bollywood to stand up for those who speak up. We wonder if anyone from Bollywood will stand up for this young girl and her right to practise here profession.
At the same time, one cant help but notice the irony in which, on one side a female muslim actor is being harassed by radical Islamists, and on the other side, this same actor seems to be alluding to being sympathetic to the cause of Jihadi militants, who are also indoctrinated based on the principles of radical Islam. Ironic, but not surprising since we must remember that Zaira Wasim is finally only a 16 year old who hasn’t developed a complete world-view, hence the inherent contradictions in her supposed positions.