New Delhi: “I am no Zaira Wasim, I won’t bow down to your threats.”
This is the message Indian wrestler and Commonwealth medallist Babita Phogat conveyed in a video posted to Twitter Friday for the people condemning her.
Phogat, who joined the BJP last year, claimed she was receiving abusive and threatening phone calls and messages on the social media platform after she tweeted about the Tablighi Jaamat.
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
On 15 April, Phogat had taken to Twitter to say that coronavirus was only India’s second biggest problem, and “ignorant Jamaatis” were its biggest cause of concern.
कोरोना वायरस भारत की दूसरे नंबर की सबसे बड़ी समस्या है।
जाहिल जमाती अभी भी पहले नंबर पर बना हुआ है।#jahiljamati
— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) April 15, 2020
A few weeks ago, she also posted about “ignorant Muslim pigs”, who, she claimed, were spreading coronavirus and used the hashtag #NizamuddinIdiots. Many on Twitter were quick to point out that Aamir Khan, who created Dangal, the 2016 biopic based on her life and her sister Geeta Phogat, is a Muslim.
— UP East Youth Congress (@IYC_UPEast) April 17, 2020
As the controversy grew, the hashtag #SuspendBabitaPhogat began trending after Twitter users accused Phogat of posting communal and divisive tweets.
Enough with hate. #SuspendBabitaPhogat
— Hasiba | حسيبة 🌈 (@HasibaAmin) April 16, 2020
Phogat hits back
In the video posted Friday, the wrestler said she was the ‘real’ Babita Phogat and would not get scared or intimidated, and would continue speaking up for her country.
Speaking in Hindi, she defended her tweet, saying it wasn’t wrong, and only spoke about those who were spreading Covid-19. She further said that if the Tablighi Jamaat had not spread the virus, the lockdown would have been lifted by now and India would have beaten the virus.
She ended her video by saying that she would continue to tell the truth. She also said she was no Zaira Wasim to be intimidated by threats.
Phogat was referring to the national award-winning Kashmiri actress Zaira Wasim, who played the role of Babita’s sister Geeta in Dangal. Wasim received death threats after she met Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in 2017. She was also constantly trolled on social media. In 2019, she announced she was quitting Bollywood.
Calls to suspend Phogat’s Twitter handle come a day after the micro-blogging site suspended the account of actress Kangana Ranaut’s sister Rangoli Chandel.
Chandel had advocated violence against Muslims and “secular media”, and accused “mullas” of attacking and killing doctors. Phogat had tweeted in support of Chandel.
आज रंगोली चंदेल दीदी ने किसकी पूँछ पर पैर रख दिया। आजकल ट्विटर भी सच्ची बात लिखने वालों से काफी खफा रहता है।#RangoliChandel
— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) April 16, 2020
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