Why I support Zaira’s trolls, respect her apology

  • Ahmad Lateef
  • Publish Date: Jan 28 2017 1:13PM
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  • Updated Date: Jan 28 2017 1:13PM
Why I support Zaira’s trolls, respect her apology

                                       Illustration by Suhail Naqshbandi

                     Lines always blur when Indian liberals and Indian right-wing discuss Kashmir

As anger against “Kashmiri zealots” started overflowing from the “always outraged Indian twitterati” for a a little trolling of 16-year-old actor, Zaira Waseem, and everyone in India from Javed Akhtar to Ashok Pandit called the actor’s apology as a “national shame”, Kashmiris kept cool.

 Lines always blur when Indian liberals and Indian right-wing discuss anything about Kashmir and an apology of the actor was something about which, Ashok Pandit was so furious, that it looked he wanted to hurl direct abuses and invectives the way he hurled at Congress spokesmen and women in January last year. This month, last year, Pandit, yelled at Priyanka Chaturvedi, saying, “I don’t need a certificate from such third rated spokesperson because we know how these people have climbed ranks in their party.” This is the class that Indian liberals have joined to project Kashmiris as irrational and extremists after Zaira wrote an apology note.

However, Kashmiri netizens expressed love for Zaira but at the same time they didn’t reject the trolls. They didn’t condemn them. In a way there was a tacit approval for the trolls but at the same time an immense respect for an apology of the teenage actor. 

Barring few exceptions, who abused the actor for her acting career in Bollywood, the trolls usually objected to her move of meeting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, citing “what happened in Kashmir in past six months.”

One person, who trolled Zaira, wrote, “Wow hat's off dude ....... I guess this girl have no information about what happened in Kashmir in these 6 months ...... Bzy in daily life??? We all have 2 die.”

Zaira responded to the trolls this way: “This is an open confession/apology. I know that many people have been offended and displeased by my recent actions or by the people I have recently met.”

“I want to apologize to all those people who I have unintentionally hurt and I want them to know that I understand their sentiments behind it especially considering what has happened over the past 6 months.”

Even if deleted by the actor, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the apology seriously.

The actor’s apology indicates that she knows very well whom she met recently. The Chief Minister after meeting her had reportedly described her role model. The Chief Minister earlier had described eight-year-old Tajamul-Islam, a kickboxing champion, as a role model. The way the government is keen to confer role model title on everyone, soon everyone in Kashmir will be hating the word “role model.”

The apology letter of the actor also indicates that she is sensitive about what happened in past six months. That over 90 youths were killed, several hundred visually impaired and over 10,000 wounded.

This way the trolls and the actor have shown deep consciousness of the tragic events of the past six months, which happened in Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s rule. 

Apologists of present PDP-PC-BJP government are surprised over trolling of the trolls and over the apology tendered by the actor for meeting Chief Minister. However, they forget their own political grandstanding when Kashmir faced similar protests in 2008 and 2010 and the state responded in a way PDP led government responded in 2016.

Didn’t PDP leaders in 2010 and afterwards describe Omar Abdullah a political pariah responsible for the killings? Wasn't Abdullah described responsible for lowering the dignity of the chief minister’s chair?

It is, however, strange that the present government now thinks they are entitled to have opinion about the killings of the youngsters in 2010 when they were in opposition but expect that the trolls should have no opinion about what happened in 2016. It is understood that the NC under whose rule killings took place in 2010 have lost moral ground to talk about the killings of 2016 under present government. But the trolls, who are common people like Indian twitterati have no such inhibitions. 

Unlike writers and other “conscience keepers” of the society, they have no obligation to the state or anyone and are open in venting their anger and ridicule. At times they give voice to collective anger of the people and Zaira Waseem’s apology is not only an acknowledgment but a fitting tribute to that anger. That is why both the trolls and the actor have won hearts and minds of Kashmiris.