January 17, 2017 3:55:12 pm
What a strange and contradictory country you find yourself living in. Let’s cut straight through the veneer of this so-called democratic identity that we as Indians claim to uphold, and get down to the frank admission of how thin-skinned we are; how rattled we get when you, a 16-year-old meets the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir; how narrow-minded, condescending and authoritative we are to tell you what you should do, whom you should meet and whom you shouldn’t.
To be honest, does it really matter? We have an inherent tendency to inflate certain situations, over-complicate them, and derive a disconcerting degree of sadistic pleasure by berating and belittling those who cannot often defend themselves. We feel it’s our prerogative to be disdainful; to hold those in contempt who don’t align themselves to the norm. For a section of Kashmiris, your meeting with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti apparently, wasn’t the norm.
Of course, your meeting would have received a certain degree of media attention – you are now the girl who gave a riveting performance as Geeta Phogat in Dangal. But your meeting with Mufti shouldn’t have raised eyebrows. It shouldn’t have been blown out of proportion. The unprecedented and frankly unnecessary uproar manufactured around you was something you had not foreseen. It’s alright. No one had. But it prompted you to take to the social media and pen down an apology (which was later deleted) in an attempt to pacify the rabble-rousers:
“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 apologise to all those people who I’ve unintentionally hurt and want them to know that I understand their sentiments, especially considering what has happened (in Kashmir) over the past six months.”
The moment you posted the apology, it appeared that you had conceded. It implied that you believed they were right, when frankly, they really weren’t. The thing is, you don’t need to justify, clarify or apologize to anyone. And that’s what everybody’s concern should be. Our concern shouldn’t be what you were discussing with Mufti or what it could have possibly meant. Our concern should be to ensure that our democratic, open-minded principles are treasured, preserved and kept intact.
There is a threatening new brand of hooliganism that’s emerging in the country. Your incident echoes the uproar created around Karan Johar’s 2016 film, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil that featured the Pakistani actor, Fawad Khan. The ‘nationalistic’, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had threatened to create unbridled unrest if Johar’s film was released. Johar had to issue an apology, pay a ransom of Rs 5 crore (which was labeled as ‘voluntary donation’ and marked as a tribute to India’s military), in order for his film to be released. If Karan Johar, an established Bollywood demigod, was left unhinged and reduced to a grovelling self by a bunch of political bullies, one can comprehend your fears and where they stem from.
This development leads to many uncomfortable questions. Where are we today as a nation and where are we headed? Are we that myopic (and frankly, despicable) in our thinking that we prop up a 16-year-old on the political chessboard? Or do we have too much time on our hands to busy ourselves in trolling rather than talking about more important issues that concern our nation? These are questions we should be compelled to mull over.
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