“Her personality has come into public domain. She (Zaira Wasim) should be more careful about who to shake hands with,” Saifuddin Ali, a famous guitarist from Kashmir, said.  

It’s fairly well known why actor Zaira Wasim made headlines after tendering a public apology on Facebook. While she has received widespread support, including plenty from the normally restrained Hindi film industry, not everyone in Kashmir is backing her. 

Ali said that the actress isn’t being targeted by conservative elements in the state as is being portrayed. 

b’Zaira Wasim/ Source: PTI’

“The conservative elements of Kashmir have nothing to do with Zaira being subjected to nasty comments on social media. She acted in a movie, it did well and she was rightfully lauded for her performance.”

“Not a word was uttered but the moment she met with the CM, all hell broke loose and not surprisingly,” Ali told ScoopWhoop News over the telephone from Srinagar.

“She was trolled because she met with the Indian representative of the state who terribly failed or let’s say, did not do anything to prevent the four-month-long deadly chaos in Kashmir,” he said. 

b’Zaira Wasim with J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti/ Source: PTI’

Ali said he understood she was just a teenager, but that wouldn’t be excused.

“I am sure as a teenager she might not have delved into the repercussions, but her ignorance doesn’t stop the people of Kashmir from being offended,” he further added.

However, not everyone shares this sentiment. 

Mehmeet Syed, a famous vocalist who has performed at several international concerts, said that the teenage actress had been wrongly targeted. 

“Zaira is not at fault and she needs to be defended and lauded in every way. We need to understand that the chief minister of a state came calling on a 16-year-old and it is funnily stupid to expect her to refuse to such a meeting,” she said.

“My heart goes out for the girl who might not even have enough clarity on what she did and how it lead to what it did. Her posts speak of her ambiguity on the issue,” she further added.

Mujtaba Rizvi, an artist and founder of ‘Kashmir Art Quest’ which organises art projects across Kashmir, said also said that the teenage actress had faced little abuse online. 

“Of all the Zaira Wasim-related comments that I came across on social media, 99% of them were in support of the teenager,” he said. 

Not the first time

Wasim isn’t the first Kashmiri artist to face backlash for her performance. Pragaash, a rock band consisting of three Kashmiri girls who performed in Srinagar in 2012, gave up performing after Kashmir’s top clergy Mufti Azam Bashir-ud-din and other conservative elements in Kashmir issued a ‘fatwa’ against them. 

b’Source: PTI’

But the other artists say that these are aberrations and they’ve never faced any problem. 

“As an artist, I was never been troubled for being a Kashmiri. In fact, my work has always been loved and lauded,” Syed said. 

Rizvi said that the only problem he has ever faced was from the government. 

“My concerts are well received as long as there is no stopping from the administration who have on several occasions resorted to vandalism and censorship simply because they are unhappy about it. There are cartoonists whose post get deleted from the social media on a regular basis even if they slightly displease the government,” Rizvi said. 

Rizvi said that the people were largely supportive of artists. 

“Despite the mistrust and skepticism towards the government, art has always struck a chord with the people of Kashmir. There might be a few exceptional cases but mostly there is no such aversion for art or artists in Kashmir,” he said. 

“It is the media that always blows it out of proportion, like they did in case of the all-female rock group that got disbanded in 2013, and makes it seems like artists are constantly under attack in Kashmir. But that is not the truth,” the artist said.