Actress Zaira alleges mid-air molestation, accused arrested


Mumbai, Dec 10

"Dangal" actress Zaira Wasim, 17, has alleged she was molested mid-air by a middle-aged man, drawing strong reactions by women rights activists and politicians. The airline apologized and Mumbai Police, which registered an FIR, arrested the accused on Sunday

The National Award winning Kashmiri actress complained about her ordeal on the flight on Saturday, claiming that a middle-aged man seated behind her moved his foot up and down her neck and back.

In a self-shot video for Instagram live chat, Zaira is also seen breaking down.

"I just landed, the whole irony of this that I yelled... and this is not done... this is not how you should be treated or made to feel. This is terrible.

"This is how they will take care of girls? No one will help us if we don't decide to help ourselves and that is the worst thing," she said, looking visibly disturbed.

Late on Sunday night, the Mumbai Police arrested the accused, identified as Vikas Sachdeva, 39. According to police, Sachedeva, a resident of Andheri, was earlier detained this afternoon and questioned before arrested for molestation and on other charges. 

The incident drew wide condemnation.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she was appalled.

"Any harassment or crime against women should be dealt with swiftly and effectively. As a mother of two daughters, I am appalled at what happened with Zaira," Mufti tweeted and urged the authorities to take strict action.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the passenger should be identified by Air Vistara and a case should be filed.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has sought a report on the incident while the National Commission for Women (NCW) as well as the Delhi and Maharashtra commisions for women urged the actress to approach police.

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma, Swati Maliwal of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) Chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar, issued notices to authorities concerned to take due action.

DCW has already sought answers from Vistara Airlines seeking details of the action taken by airlines.

Vistara Airlines apologized to Zaira and said it was carrying out a detailed investigation.

"We will support Wasim in every way required and also if she decides to report this matter to the police... We apologize for what Wasim experienced and we have zero tolerance for such behaviour," read a post on the Airlines' official Twitter page.

From the film industry, director Onir and actress Swara Bhasker came out in support of Zaira, who was also lauded for her performance in "Secret Superstar".

"Shame Vistara that your staff did nothing. Shame on all the passengers, they are equally guilty as this moron. It should not be difficult for airlines to locate him from seat no. He should be arrested and punished," Onir tweeted.

Swara slammed it an "intolerable" incident and said: "We are now at that point where a 17-year-old child has to remind us what is right and what is wrong. I'm so sorry that adults around you let you down, Zaira Wasim. But you keep up the good fight. Stay strong."

Wrestler Babita Phogat tweeted a video in support of Zaira, who played the younger version of Geeta Phogat in "Dangal".

"If someone is misbehaving with you, give a tight slap on their face. They will never dare to repeat their actions again. Zaira, you don't need to be afraid of anyone and just be 'dhaakad' (bold) in real life as well."


Mumbai, Dec 10
"Dangal" actress Zaira Wasim has detailed a harrowing experience of being allegedly molested by a middle-aged man while she was on a flight from Delhi to Mumbai.

The 17-year-old National Award winner shared her ordeal via an Instagram Story.

"Managed to get this," Zaira posted with a snapshot of the man's foot, which was rested on her arm rest.

The star of "Secret Superstar" then added: "The lights were dimmed, so it was even worse. It continued for another 5-10 minutes and then I was sure of it. He kept nudging my shoulder and continued to move his foot up and down my back and neck.

"So, I was in a flight travelling from Delhi to Mumbai today and right behind me one middle-aged man who made my two-hour journey miserable. I tried to record it on phone to understand it better because the cabin lights were dimmed, I failed to get it.

"It was all chill till I felt somebody brushing against my back while I was half asleep. I ignored it the first time. Blamed the turbulence for it. Until I woke me up to this pleasant sight of his beautiful foot rubbing my back and neck.

"Guess he couldn't sit like a civilised human being and placed his foot on my armrest while he's fully 'phelaoed' (spread) his body on his seat."

She ended her post with: "Slow claps for Vistara's wonderful crew guys."

In a self-shot video doing the rounds on social media, Zaira, who is from Jammu and Kashmir, is also seen breaking down on an Instagram live chat.

"I just landed, the whole irony of this that I yelled... and this is not done... this is not how you should be treated or made to feela this is terrible. This is how they will take care of girls? No one will help us if we don't decide to help ourselves and that is the worst thing," she said, looking visibly disturbed.

Vistara Airlines has said it will investigate the issue.

"We have seen the reports regarding Zaira Wasim experience with another customer on board last night. We are carrying out detailed investigation and will support Zaira in every way required. We have zero tolerance for such behaviour," read a post on the Airlines' official Twitter page.

Share This Post