I'm not Zaira Wasim: Babita Phogat, after tweets spark controversy
Wrestler Babita Phogat, who joined Bharatiya Janata Party in 2019, slammed her critics on Twitter this morning after one of her posts regarding Tablighi Jamaat sparked a controversy. Babita claimed to have been receiving hate messages and threats but warned she isn't Zaira Wasim, the actor who played her sister Geeta Phogat in blockbuster movie Dangal. She clarified she would continue speaking her mind.
On April 15, Babita posted a tweet targeting Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic sect whose event became India's coronavirus super-spreader. Posted originally in Hindi, the tweet is loosely translated to "Coronavirus is the second biggest problem in India, the first one remains uneducated Jamaatis." At the time of the press, the tweet had garnered 19,500 RTs and nearly 77,000 likes.
कोरोना वायरस भारत की दूसरे नंबर की सबसे बड़ी समस्या है।— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) April 15, 2020
जाहिल जमाती अभी भी पहले नंबर पर बना हुआ है।#jahiljamati
The tweet, and a couple of others, didn't age well on Twitter and hundreds of users demanded that her account be suspended. #SuspendBabitaPhogat remained a top trend and to counter it, Babita's supporters posted tweets with the hashtag #ISupportBabitaPhogat. As things got ugly on the micro-blogging website, Babita put an over one-minute long video, saying she would not be silenced.
In the clip, Babita said she was receiving threats. "I am no Zaira Wasim, I won't get threatened, I have always fought for my country, I stand by my tweets," she said. To recall, Zaira snapped ties with Bollywood last year saying acting was affecting her relationship with her religion. The decision sparked a huge controversy, with many opining Zaira was bullied into quitting.
"I would like to ask all of you to tell me whether it isn't true that Tablighi Jamaat members indeed spread coronavirus. If they had not gathered, we would have gotten rid of the virus by now. I will always speak the truth," she added.
यदि आप बबीता फोगाट को सपोर्ट करते हैं तो उन तक यह बात जरूर पहुंचा दीजिए और उनको बोलिए ध्यान से कान खोल कर सुन लें। pic.twitter.com/gqec3lQwPE— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) April 17, 2020
Babita also lent support to Rangoli Chandel, actor Kangana Ranaut's sister, whose account was suspended on Thursday. Fuming over the Moradabad stone-pelting incident, Rangoli called for "shooting mullas" and a section of media who supported them. She didn't mind being called Nazis for suggesting violence. After her account was suspended, Rangoli said she doesn't want to be a part of an "anti-India" platform.
To recall, Tablighi Jamaat held a congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz in March which turned into a COVID-19 hotspot. A large number of coronavirus infections in India are linked to the sect. However, with hate speech and sensationalism taking over the country's fight against the deadly disease, states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have appealed to not communalize the incident.