Actress Zaira alleges mid-air molestation

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appalled, calls for strict action

Mumbai: Dangal actress Zaira Wasim, 17, has alleged she was molested mid-air by a middle-aged man, drawing strong reactions by women rights activists and politicians. The airline apologised and Mumbai Police registered a first information report (FIR).

The Indian National Award-winning Kashmiri actress complained about her ordeal, claiming that a middle-aged man seated behind her moved his foot up and down her neck and back.

In a self-shot video for Instagram live chat, Wasim is also seen breaking down.

“I just landed, the whole irony of this [is] that I yelled… and this is not done… this is not how you should be treated or made to feel. This is terrible.

“This is how they will take care of girls? No one will help us if we don’t decide to help ourselves and that is the worst thing,” she said, looking visibly disturbed.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she was appalled.

“Any harassment or crime against women should be dealt with swiftly and effectively. As a mother of two daughters, I am appalled at what happened with Zaira,” she tweeted. She urged authorities to take strict and swift action.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the passenger should be identified by Air Vistara and a case should be filed.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) as well as the Delhi and Maharashtra commissions for women urged the actress to approach the police.

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma, Swati Maliwal of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), and Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) Chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar, issued notices to concerned authorities to take due action.

DCW has already contacted Vistara Airlines seeking details of the action taken by the career.

Vistara Airlines apologised to Wasim and said it was carrying out a detailed investigation.

“We will support Wasim in every way required and also if she decides to report this matter to the police… We apologise for what Wasim experienced and we have zero tolerance for such behaviour,” read a post on the airlines’ official Twitter page.

From the film industry, director Onir and actress Swara Bhasker came out in support of Wasim, who was also lauded for her performance in Secret Superstar.

“Shame Vistara that your staff did nothing. Shame on all the passengers, they are equally guilty as this [expletive]. It should not be difficult for airlines to locate him from seat no. He should be arrested and punished,” Onir tweeted.

Bhasker slammed it an “intolerable” incident. She said: “We are now at that point where a 17-year-old child has to remind us what is right and what is wrong. I’m so sorry that adults around you let you down, Zaira Wasim. But you keep up the good fight. Stay strong.”

Wrestler Babita Phogat tweeted a video in support of Zaira, who played the younger version of Geeta Phogat in Dangal.

“If someone is misbehaving with you, give a tight slap on their face. They will never dare to repeat their actions again. Zaira, you don’t need to be afraid of anyone and just be dhaakad [bold] in real life as well.”


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