New Delhi: Kashmir is taking over not just international politics, but also inside the Bigg Boss house.
Season 13 kicked off Sunday night with its usual high drama and high ratings. But two contestants took centre stage — Asim Riaz and Mahira Sharma, who happen to be the first Kashmiris in the Bigg Boss house. The show hosted by Salman Khan made it a point to remind everyone of the fact.
Cue the many repeated references.
On being introduced, Riaz talked about where he was from. When a contestant tried to get under his skin, Riaz hit back: “Mujhe kuch mat kehna, main Jammu aur Kashmir se hoon (Don’t mess with me, I’m from Jammu and Kashmir).”
For those not familiar with the show, a lot of it follows contestants constantly trying to undermine each other, with a healthy dose of expletives and personal attacks.
Sharma is a well-known TV actor who stars on Colours TV’s Naagin 3, while Riaz is a model, who is counting on Bigg Boss being his ticket to fame.
In Bigg Boss 13, Riaz and Sharma appeared to develop a kinship and spoke about going to Kashmir together on several occasions. Contestants on the show often form alliances, and face-off with others, and even go through elimination rounds in which fellow contestants vote them out.
When you eventually get past the drama, the show appears to be sending the message the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has been repeating since 5 August when a security lockdown was put in effect — that the scrapping of Article 370 is finally bringing Jammu & Kashmir into the nation’s fold more effectively.
For one, Kashmiris aren’t among the bulk of actors that dominate Bollywood or the TV industry. Noted exception is actor Hina Khan, incidentally a former Bigg Boss contestant who was born in Srinagar but (partly) raised in Delhi.
Marketing spin on Kashmir politics
In the past weeks, several accounts from locals in the more remote regions talked about how the removal of Article 370 had made no difference to their lives — access to jobs and opportunities remain sparse, they said.
But in the rest of India, the fact is being celebrated, and even marketed.
Filmmakers rushed to register movie titles such as ‘Article 370’ and ‘Kashmir Hamara Hai’. In Delhi, a restaurant offered an ‘Article 370 thaali‘, which had dishes from all over India — a gastronomic integration of cultures one could call it. Patrons from Kashmir were given an additional discount of Rs 370. More recently, women in Surat painted Kashmir-themed tattoos on their backs for Navratri.
Clearly, no matter the occasion, the issue is a hot topic.
Just last week, Pakistan PM Imran Khan spent the better part of his UN visit in New York raising the matter on an international stage in a bid to force world leaders to act against India. New Delhi, though, has been pretty clear and steadfast from the start: Kashmir is an internal issue.
Also read: Pakistan needs to stop thinking of Kashmir as an unfinished business of Partition
It’s extremely sad that such articles are published, without an iota of research. They both have absolutely no Kashmiri roots whatsoever, they are from Jammu and not Kashmir. Please do not spread misinformation and try to create a homogeneous ‘Kashmiri’ identity for everyone from Jammu and Kashmir. The ethnic Kashmiris already have a lot of representation in media, politics, films etc. Please let the other people from the state also establish their identity. This phenomenon of bracketing everyone under the term’ Kashmiri’ just goes unchecked in the Indian mainstream and people rarely counter it. Again Abdul Samad has been labeled as a Kashmiri on national television. Just stop doing this please, it’s a request. Just like not everyone from South India is Madrasi, this stereotype also has to go.
Two factual errors in the beginning of the article itself. Asim Riaz and Mahira Sharma are NOT Kashmiris. They are from Jammu and are Punjabi speakers and the same fact has been mentioned many times during the showw. It is Jammu AND Kashmir (and Laddakh) and NOT just Kashmir. You would not call Laddakhis as Kashmiris. So don’t call Jammu people are Kashmiris. Also the statement that they happen to be the “first Kashmiris in the Bigg Boss house” is also false. In fact it is contradicted later in the article when Hina Khan is mentioned. Pranit Bhatt was also Kashmiri. Please fact-check articles and also proof-read them for coherence and contradictions before publishing.
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