You’re Provoking People: Jwala Gutta Slams Babita’s Jamaat Remark

Jwala Gutta has spoken out against Babita Phogat’s controversial incendiary remarks.

3 min read

“You are, directly or indirectly, provoking people against a community. Blaming them and targeting them is only going to make things worse... I did not expect this kind of a statement from a sportsperson," says Indian badminton star Jwala Gutta as she takes on wrestler Babita Phogat over her recent tweets, targeting members of the Tablighi Jamaat.

The 30-year-old wrestler, who joined BJP in 2019, has been posting strongly-worded tweets targeting a particular community, after a religious organisation faced flak as a gathering of its members, in New Delhi's Nizamuddin, became a hotspot for the novel coronavirus.

Babita’s comments, however, have been criticised by many, with a man in Aurangabad also filing a complaint against her and the hashtag #SuspendedBabitaPhogat trending on Twitter.

Gutta Speaks Up

While many on social media have called out the wrestler for her provocative tweets, Gutta stands out as the only member of the Indian sporting community to speak out against Babita, who has seen a wide range of support from the wrestling community.

“I saw a series of tweets where I felt she was pointing to one community. I don’t think this is the right time to do that. At any time of our lives, we being public faces, I think we have to choose our words very careful and I didn’t see that happening. You are indirectly or directly provoking people against another community," said Gutta, in an exclusive interview with The Quint.

No Backing Down For Babita

Following her comments on social media, Babita was trolled heavily and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold medallist released a video response, saying she wasn't going to stop speaking her mind despite the threats she had been receiving.

"In the recent past, I posted some tweets after which many people sent me wrong messages over Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and Twitter and abused me, while some people threatened me over phone," she said in the video.

Phogat she that she was not actor Zaira Wasim, and that she would not feel scared and sit at home.

"I want to tell all these people... I am not Zaira Wasim, that I will feel scared by your threats and sit at home. Your threats will not scare me. I am Babita Phogat and have always fought for my country. I will continue to do so and speak for my nation," she said in a video posted to her Twitter account.

Wasim, the 20-year-old Srinagar-born National Award winning actress, had announced her decision to quit acting on social media in June last year, saying it interfered with her faith and religion.

‘Fans Don’t See Religion’

Taking exception to Babita invoking her contributions to the nation as an international athlete, Gutta pointed out that when they had stood on podiums as champions, fans across the country had celebrated their achievements, with no exceptions of caste or creed.

“When we won, every Indian celebrated it as their own (victory). If you see people making mistakes, there is a way to say it. You can try to speak to them, try to use your influence and do the right thing but blaming them and targeting them is only going to make things worse and we, sportspersons, are ambassadors of peace. We go around the world and we meet all kinds of people, of different race, community, nationality,” Gutta said.

“I did not expect this kind of a statement from a sportsperson, I was highly disappointed,” she added.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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