SRINAGAR, Jan 16: Sixteen year old Kashmiri girl, who played the younger version of Indian wrestler Geeta Phogat in Aamir Khan-led Bollywood blockbuster “Dangal”, today apologized for “offending” and “unintentionally hurting” many people apparently over her meeting with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that had kicked off online controversy.
Zaira, a resident of Srinagar, took to social networking website, Facebook, and posted her apology note, saying: “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.”
Apparently referring to the last year’s months long unrest that claimed dozens of lives in Kashmir, she said: “I want to apologise to all those people who I’ve unintentionally hurt and I want them to know that I understand their sentiments behind it especially considering that what had happened over the past 6 months…”
Although she regretted her meet with the Chief Minister but quickly added that she hopes people can also understand that “there are certain circumstances that emerge which one cannot control and I hope people still remember that I’m a just a 16 year old girl and I hope you treat me accordingly. I’m sorry for what I did but it was not a deliberate decision and I really hope people can forgive me”.
The controversy started after pictures and videos of her meeting with the Chief Minister went viral on social media including Facebook and Twitter, inviting criticism from scores of Kashmiri netizens. The ‘Dangal’ girl also said that she don’t want anyone to follow her footsteps and is not role model – as she is being projected.
“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! I do not wish to start an argument here, this was just a mere confession from my end which I really wanted people to know,” she wrote.
The apology note of Zaira went viral all over social media websites and was also picked up by media houses, mostly television news channels, who blamed separatists for trolling the young actress. However, it didn’t go well with Zaira who after deleting her apology note posted another status, said she wasn’t forced by anyone to do anything. She also urged media not to blow the issue out of proportion. Later, she deleted her second note as well to put things to rest.
Opposition leader and former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, expressed his displeasure over alleged trolling of Zaira for her meeting with Mehbooba and also lashed out at the Chief Minister, accusing her of using success of others “to cover her failures”.
“A 16 year old shouldn’t be forced to apologise & that too allegedly for meeting @MehboobaMufti. What are we coming to!!!!!,” Omar wrote on Twitter. “I’ve a problem with @MehboobaMufti trying to userp other peoples success to cover up her own failures but why punish/troll people she meets?”, he added. He suggested Chief Minister “not to try hijack” success of Zaira and let her enjoy.