Former India cricketers Gautam Gambhir and Mohammad Kaif came out in support of Kashmiri teenager Zaira Wasim, who played the younger version of wrestler Geeta Phogat in Bollywood blockbuster Dangal, and who on Monday was unwittingly caught up in a controversy over her meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti against the backdrop of the unrest in the Valley.
Delhi batsman Gambhir, image, below, slammed those who went after the 16-year-old Zaira on social media over her meeting with the chief minister on Saturday that drew sharp reactions from the youth in the Valley because of the situation there during the last few months.
'Calling @zairawasim "unislamic" for acting in Dangal or meeting @MehboobaMufti is naked suppression. Ashamed dat she had 2 apologise.'
'To me whole @zairawasim episode smells of sexual bias. Can someone say d same thing 2 @aamir_khan @BeingSalmanKhan @iamsrk?'
'Men will be men. Insecure 2 see a girl like @zairawasim get wings. Sadly we think "Maahri Choriyan AAJ B Choron se kum hain @aamir_khan,' Gambhir wrote in a series of tweets on Tuesday.
Kaif also came out in support of the youngster, claiming there was no reason for her to apologize.
'Such a shame that Dangal superkid #ZahiraWasim had to apologise. What wrong did she do ?' Kaif tweeted.
Zaira first posted an apology for "offending" and "unintentionally hurting" people after her meeting with Mehbooba kicked up a row but later deleted the post. She then posted again, this time asking everyone not to blow the issue out of proportion, but deleted this post too.
Zaira, who played the younger version of wrestler Geeta Phogat in Dangal, took to Facebook and tendered an 'apology'.
She also played down her performance in Dangal, saying she was "not proud of" what she is doing.
"This is an open confession/apology. I know that many people have been offended and displeased by my recent actions or by the people I have recently met," the young actress wrote on her Facebook page.
Zaira said she wanted to apologise to "all those people who I have unintentionally hurt and I want them to know that I understand their sentiments behind it especially considering that what had happened over the past six months" -- apparently referring to the unrest in the Valley which left 86 people dead and thousands injured.
"But I hope people can also understand there are certain circumstances that emerge which one cannot control and I hope people still remember that I'm a just a 16 year old girl and I hope you treat me accordingly. I'm sorry for what I did but it was not a deliberate decision and I really hope people can forgive me," she said.