I am with Zaira,”, one of the top trending hashtags, took the virtual world by storm last week, after Dangal starlet Zaira Waseem, a 16-year-old Kashmiri, was trolled by a few for meeting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti following the record breaking success of the Aamir Khan starrer.
Zaira, who has won accolades for playing the role of the younger Geeta Phogat – a Commonwealth gold medallist wrestler – met Mufti last week and the pictures of the meeting appeared online, drawing flak from some online trollers in Kashmir.
The actor later posted an apology on her Facebook page for “unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments”. The apologetic post was, however, deleted later.
On Jan. 17, another hashtag “Kashmir stands with Zaira Wasim” appeared with scores of netizens from the valley coming out in support of the star.
“Like Tajamul (a Kashmiri kickboxing champion) and Hashim (another Kashmiri martial art champion), Zaira was also subjected to such petty politics,” wrote Mohammed Faysal and Khizer Humsaferani in a joint blogpost on www.withkashmir.com.
“So whenever there’s a success story out of Kashmir, the government and the Indian media use that as an indication of normalcy. Thus politicising the hard work and dedication of these remarkable individuals,” they wrote in support of Zaira.
“Politicians must stop appropriating the success of Kashmiris as a political point. And the media should stop making ‘savages’ out of Kashmir.”
Javid Parsa, a Kashmiri entrepreneur, urged people to leave the kid alone and stop doing politics that would shatter her dreams.
“She is a 16-year-old artist just trying to achieve her dreams like many of us. She is where she is because of her own talent and not because of any political or government agency,” Parsa, who owns popular eatery Kathi Junction in Srinagar, wrote on his Facebook page.
“The state has entities who have tried to use successful people for its political gains. There have been instances when they have tried to take credit for people who have gained something on their own.”
Author and academician Shahnaz Bashir said Kashmiris needed to be “proud of our indigenous talent and protect, love and preserve it”.
“Zaira is primarily a very young Kashmiri girl. And above all, however, indifferent, critical or supportive, we ideologically remain to our own diversity, we must not but foolishly let the other destroy us within the self.”