Urmila Dismisses Claims of Her Converting to Islam, Slams Trolls
Within hours of being nominated as the Congress candidate for the Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat on 29 March, Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar was targeted by trolls over her religious identity.
Her Wikipedia was edited repeatedly to claim that Matondkar had converted to Islam post her marriage to a Kashmiri businessman and model, Mohsin Akhtar Mir, in 2015 and that she had changed her name to 'Mariyam Akhtar Mir' shortly after.
Speaking to The Quint, Matondkar dismissed such claims and said that people spreading such misinformation are only concerned with ‘jumlebaazi’.
Matondkar also said that the common people were not behind this (spreading misinformation) but that it was being done by ‘their’ machinery (hinting at the ruling party).
“Urmila Matondkar is now wilfully converted to Islam and her New Identity is Maryam Akhtar Mir,” one of the edits to Matondkar’s Wikipedia page had claimed.
In another edit, the page had reflected: "After her 'nikaah' (Muslim marriage ceremony before a cleric), she has changed her name legally' to Mariyam Akhtar Mir".
It went even further citing her parents as Shivinder Singh and Rukshana Sultana, implying she was a second generation in the family to have an inter-religious Hindu-Muslim wedding.
Soon after, Right-wing Facebook pages picked up the claim and ran with it. A similar post was shared by We Support Namo with a fake quote of the actress. It was shared over 1,000 times and had more than 600 social media interactions.
Several Twitter users also shared the edited versions of the Wikipedia page:
‘Why Am I Being Asked About My Religion?’
Matondkar, in an interview to ANI, had also responded to the brouhaha over her identity by questioning the intent behind dragging her religion into the equation.
“If anyone thinks the trolling is going to stop me, I am going to have to tell them that I am from the land of Shivaji and there is no stopping us once we take a step forward,” she had also said, as per NDTV.
Matondkar’s father, Shrikant Matondkar, also dismissed the claims as “nonsense”.
"For Urmila, this is purely an ideological fight for upholding democratic ideals and her strong convictions. She would never stoop so low as to discuss the family or relatives of her opponents on such platforms," he added.
Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, meanwhile, said that "this effectively proves that the Bharatiya Janata Party considers her a 'serious contender' and not as lightweight as some of their leaders have been claiming".
Sawant had posted almost a prophetic tweet on Friday after Urmila's candidature was announced:
The original Wikipedia page was restored soon after the BLP (Biographies of living persons issue) or vandalism was spotted.
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(With inputs from IANS, ANI, NDTV)