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    EditorialWhy Zaira meeting Mehbooba was made a big deal

    Why Zaira meeting Mehbooba was made a big deal


    Why Zaira meeting Mehbooba was made a big deal

    It is unfortunate when the political shots are fired from the tender shoulders of a child actor. Whatever the grouse that separatists have against and chief minister Mahbooba Mufti, venting it out on the 16-year-old Zaira Wasim, who played the younger version of champion wrestler Geeta Phogat in the latest Aamir Khan-led blockbuster Dangal, is simply not done.

    Zaira has recently posted a “confession/open apology” on her verified Facebook page, and while we are not completely sure if the post is genuine, or whether her account has been hacked into, that she has viciously trolled for meeting Mufti is abundantly clear.

    Not only has Wasim been traumatised over the much-hyped meeting that she had with Mufti, it was alleged that by playing an Indian wrestler, she was espousing the cause of the Indian state, and therefore going against the Kashmiris who want azadi.

    However, we must ask why has a meeting with J&K CM Mufti triggered such online vitriol against the young Wasim, who wowed everyone with her gritty portrayal of the recalcitrant and physically metamorphosing Geeta Phogat. Well the reasons could be the following.

    Firstly, many in the Valley see Mufti as the torchbearer of the betrayal that they think the PDP has committed by forming the ruling coalition with the BJP in the state. As a result, she became the target of throttled separatist aspirations and got blamed for growing violence in the Valley.

    Secondly, after the death of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani, a dashing lieutenant of the separatist cause, CM Mehbooba Mufti had shown unparalleled resistance to taking sides. While she condemned the hardline approach that the paramilitary took towards the mass mourners at Wani's funeral, by firing pellet guns at them and blinding several hundreds, she did not for once hailed Wani as a hero.

    Easily, Mufti became the target of both the jingoist ultranationalists as well as the separatists, who see the Kashmir story in black and white. However, this was also the time of media gag such as banning Kashmir Reader and three-month-long internet shutdown in the Valley, growing violence and comparisons with the time when during the National Conference regime, about 112 were killed by Indian army personnel in 2010.

    Thirdly, meetings with PM Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh and others from the Centre, who are seen as those adding fuel to the fire of discontent against within the Valley with their hardline nationalism talk, made Mufti a bigger criminal in the eyes of the younger, unseasoned Kashmiris.

    Finally, Wasim's portrayal of Geeta Phogat in a film dipping with patriotic sentiments of the unapologetic Indian variety, might have really upset those who want a separate Kashmir free of India for themselves. While Wasim excelled at playing Phogat, the rifts in the political tectonic plate only got wider.

    It is unfortunate and extremely unnerving that the impressionable and young Wasim is being targeted by those with ulterior political motives, whether fair or not. Why should turn an adolescent into a scapegoat of partisan advocacy and territorial dogfights? The actor in Wasim would do well to learn from Aamir Khan and steer clear of any political camp whatsoever that wants to box her into a predetermined identity compartment.

    Why calls for azadi are justified when done peacefully – everyone has a right to self-determination – the ugliness of political one-upmanship over a child actor's happy rendezvous with a controversial but gritty CM of a conflict state is truly deplorable.

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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