By: Zaira Ashraf Khan

Zaira wasim during her meeting with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti (KL image)

Zaira Wasim, a Kashmiri teenager girl and a co-actor in Amir Khan’s Blockbuster “Dangal”, landed in a soup few days back after she met Chief Minister Ms. Mehbooba Mufti . She (Mehbooba) had described her as an inspiration for the youth of the state that too when many youth of her age had been blinded, maimed and killed in the recent uprising. This was followed by Zaira’s facebook post, deletion of which, spurred  a controversy . The post was an apology letter from Zaira which she clearly declares that no one forced her in writing it. In a jiffy Delhi based media took note of her post and declared an emergency to protect, support and honour Zaira who supposedly had been forced (by people of Kashmir) in writing that post, a claim which she repeatedly denounced. Even the rumours of her receiving death threats circulated and within a moment a huge support flooded in from many famous personalities mostly from Bollywood tagging #I stand by Zaira#.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah blamed Mehbooba Mufti for usurping other peoples success to cover her own failures. He says, in his tweet “Zaira should not be forced to apologise.

“A 16 year old shouldn’t be forced to apologise & that too allegedly for meeting @MehboobaMufti. What are we coming to!!!!!,”

“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.

In another post Anupam kher extended his support when he says, “”Dear @zairawasim! Ur apology letter is sad but full of courage. It exposes d cowardice of people who made u write it. But u r my #RoleModel.”

Cowardice of the people who made you write it…? Who are the people Mr. Kher is referring to? People of Kashmir I guess!

In his post Javed Akhtar says , “Those who shout AZADI from the roof tops don’t give an iota of AZADI to others Poor Zaira Waseem had to apologies (sic) for her success Shame !!

A picture from the movie Dangal

Another bollywood figure Swara posted, “To those demanding #Azadi in #Kashmir. U seem fundamentally undemocratic, bigoted n incapable of respecting any1 else’s freedom #ZairaWasim.”

What amazes me the most, is the support extended by many non-Kashmiris and bollywood actors to a Kashmiri girl when in the past six months not a single word of condemnation was heard from them for the same Kashmiris who were withering in pain in state hospitals and laid to rest in the graveyards. That intrigues me whether they are standing by Kashmir or against it? Or is it that Kashmir is again victimized for no fault of hers. People, instead of understanding the trauma and anger endured by the people over the past few months which is yet to be recovered, and instead of sympathizing with them, are tarnishing their image further by jeopardizing the issue. Trying to project Kashmir as an evil, undemocratic and conservative nation.

If that was not enough, religion is also dragged into the discussion; that too when Zaira’s role was never the subject of controversy. Sonu Nigam in one of his posts says, “”May God give Sanity to this World. And a Bigger Perspective of Humanity beyond Religion and Patriotism. #ZairaWasim.”

The entire debate startled with an incident and snowballed into religious, political and social controversy. In that case, I would like to present some of my views regarding the matter.

First and foremost putting an inhibition on someone’s words, ideas or actions goes against democracy as well as ethics (unless it is for the ultimate benefit of the person/society). Cornering a teen for a political matter or even religious one is condemnable. Since this entire controversy has highlighted two aspects, one of religion and other of politics; I would like to throw some light on it in my best capacity.

Not restricting to a religious perspective only but rather generally even from the standards of morality I personally would not favor any of my brother / Sister to work for Hollywood, Bollywood, Lollywood or all those film industries that have mushroomed in various parts of the world.  Because, for me it does not provide a healthy environment for our spiritual growth and intellectual development.  .Quran clearly states “Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” ( Surah Baqarah 268).

This might raise a few eyebrows for some because I am well aware of the fact that the world we are living in today is full of materialism, and not much place left for morality and spirituality. Modesty is equated with oppression and religiosity considered conservative and obsolete. But I strongly believe we as humans have huge talents and we need to make conscious efforts for its execution. This involves even abandoning drugs, intoxicants, and all frivolous activities from our daily schedule to make the most of our quality time and energy.

Zaira Wasim.

Regarding the responses that have flooded from those criticizing a girl for holding a meeting with the chief minister or her role, this has never been the sunnah of our Prophet (saw) nor the command of our creator. And we as Muslims and kashmiris for that matter, known for our hospitality and courage are accountable for disposing of a humane character. Qur’an clearly states, “So by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter.” (Surah Al mran 159). Quran encourages us to be kind to others and talk in a decent manner that doesn’t hurt anyone’s sentiments and self respect.

From the political point, I don’t think it should be given such a hype. All our Kashmiris, be it Shah Faisal, Burhan, Zaira or Insha are our role models and no comparison or attempt whatsoever should be made in dividing the entire state into “Good Kashmiris and Bad Kashmiris”.

Tail piece: I can only pray May we as Muslims uphold the teachings of our beloved Prophet, Muhammad (saw) and honour the hard work of our saints in introducing this religion of peace to this part of the world thus leading us from darkness to light.

(Author is a Research Scholar at University of Kashmir. Ideas expressed are her own)







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