Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Vijay Goel on Friday attempted to clarify his remarks on Dangal actor Zaira Wasim, saying she had misunderstood him. “You have interpreted wrong. I appreciated your work and stated that evil and patriarchal notions must be discouraged,” he said on Twitter after the 16-year-old actor criticised him for comparing her to a painting of a hijab-clad woman pictured above another girl trapped inside a cage.
“I’m afraid you still haven’t understood. But I wish you all the very best and appreciate your work. Hope to meet & interact too,” the minister said.
Earlier on Friday, Goel had tweeted an image of himself observing the painting and said, “Our daughters have broken their cages and have started progressing. More power to our daughters!” Wasim, however, did not appreciate the comparison and requested him to not connect her “to such a discourteous depiction”. “Women in hijab[s] are beautiful and free,” she said. “Moreover, the story depicted through this painting is not even remotely relevant to mine.”
The Twitter responses stirred a controversy as Wasim was already in the news for issuing a statement after meeting Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday. “I want to apologise to all those I’ve unintentionally hurt... I understand their sentiments, especially considering what has happened [in Kashmir] over the past six months,” she had said.
A number of Bollywood actors, including her Dangal co-star Aamir Khan, had spoken up in her support after internet trolls, particularly from the Kashmir Valley, questioned the teenager’s morality for acting in the film and ridiculed her for sporting a short crop, soon after her meeting Mufti. She had the support of Geeta Phogat too, whom she had portrayed in the movie.