Saina Nehwal backs police ‘encounter’ as journalist questions her stance

Hyderabad: Are celebrities entitled to their personal opinion? In what sparked a Twitter war, a journalist had commented on Saina Nehwal’s post on the alleged encounter, saying that it is expected of celebrities to comment sensibly on sensitive issues.

In a retort to the journalist’s comment, Saina Nehwal replied that she is happy that the accused were shot down however the means. Justifying the alleged encounter again, the badminton star said, “Can’t even imagine the horror the victim felt and then when these rapists are shot down however the incident happened, I’m happy. I don’t need applause. Your opinion is not changing the mindsets of rapists or the law. If the victim had a gun she would shoot them too.”

The sportsperson based in Hyderabad highlighted that giving opinions on social media alone will not change the mindsets of the rapists or the law.  Earlier, it was on December 6, that she first posted on Twitter about the extra-judicial killing, saying “Great work #hyderabadpolice ..we salute u”.

It was to this post that a journalist, Anna M Vetticaad reacted. Calling Saina’s tweet ‘mindless’, she tweeted, “Shocked at this mindless tweet from you, @NSaina. No doubt it will get you applause, but the harm done by you who have such reach and are such a +ve role model for women is immeasurable. I request, urge, even beg you to have the humility to study an issue before commenting on it.”

Several twitter users had mixed reactions towards this tweet. While some were of the opinion that celebrities should comment for social justice, given their influence and amount of followers, others opined that celebrities are allowed to give personal opinions, without having to sound ‘sensible’. “I honestly fail to understand how educated people fail to understand the gravity of the things they say and the repurcussions their words would have on the public,” said Reethu Ravi a twitter user. Another user Sarath P commented, “Why do people expect celebrity sportsperson/movie stars to give out pearls of wisdom on matters which are not their expertise? They are just human beings with a different skill set and should hardly be expected to have any sophisticated thought on other matters!”

In the wake of the alleged encounter by Telangana police on the four-rape accused in the vet doctor case, several celebrities had come to the fore saying ‘justice has been served’. Irrespective of industry, Tollywood and Bollywood actors were lauding Telangana police for taking law into their hands.

Still, the question still remains as to whether the burden of being ‘socially progressive’ is assigned to celebrities like these. When people demand immediate reactions from famous stars, do we want our opinion reflected through them, or are they allowed to have their own opinions?

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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