India’s loss by 10 wickets at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Dubai International Stadium on 24th October 2021 to Pakistan was met with a myriad of funny and sorrowful memes. Unfortunately, the loss was also met with a tonne of abuse and Islamophobic comments. But to India, this isn’t surprising. Mohammad Shami, the Indian bowler was only just one of the victims. Kashmiri students in Punjab Universities were also allegedly attacked due to India’s loss to Pakistan.
There is a nostalgia attached to India vs Pakistan matches; a reminiscence of childhood memories, if you will. Hopefully, for both countries. A rote choreography on the tunes of “Mauka Mauka”. But the tragedy of today remains that there is a growing intolerance towards anyone who has a difference in opinion from the majority. My political science teacher once said, “Hindustan ki parampara tolerance hai.” And he was right. Unfortunately, there is a shift, an intolerance so great that it burns red even at the mere mention of anything Muslims. So, great that it sees no privileges. No previous deeds and no financial wealth. Only political connections matter. One such case is that of Mohammad Shami, an Indian bowler, we all know and love. The loss of T-20 against Pakistan was a big one, yes. The boys did not play well. In a match where bowlers like Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar were stumped and couldn’t catch a wicket, Shami was expected to. And when he couldn’t, Islamophobic comments were mandatory because according to the new normalcy, people who’ve never held a bat know more about the sport than the ones who play it for a living.
After the loss, Shami’s social media’s comment section was filled with abusive comments. Comments like, “Bloody Pakistani in Team India” and “A Muslim sided with Pakistan. How much money did you receive?” were seen. To be so naively arrogant that they couldn’t possibly imagine a scenario where India could have lost because of say, lack of practice or a scenario where Pakistan could have won for the sole reason that the players played well. To sulk over the loss is one thing but to believe that there should be no possible outcome of a match other than a win is pure idiocracy. And then to cuss someone else over one’s stupidity is nothing but absurd.
Though in a show of beautiful sportsmanship, Captain Virat Kohli was seen hugging the Pakistani duo Rizwan and Babar who stood their ground and led their team to victory. A lot of millennials came forward on Shami’s support as well and demanded Kohli to show support and stand in solidarity with Shami in the same way he hugged the Pakistani players. People also quoted the incident where hockey player Vandana Katariya faced casteist slurs and her team Captain Rani Rampal stood in solidarity with her because that’s what a captain does. People also zealously reminded team India that before the onset of the match, they’d just taken a knee for Black Lives Matter and it’s their duty that they take a stand for their team members.
Indian spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Former Indian cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Harbajan Singh and Irfan Pathan also came in support, “Even I was part of #IndvsPak battles on the field where we have lost but never been told to go to Pakistan! I’m talking about India of few years back. THIS CRAP NEEDS TO STOP. #Shami” Again, the intolerance surfaces! Anybody who has a mouth to speak and fingers to type apparently can declare another citizen Anti-National or not a worthy citizen of India. If they don’t like what we have to say, we all run the risk of being sent to Pakistan.
Years of being a model citizen have gone away. Years of contribution and years of honesty have passed. Who gets to decide who is worthy of staying in India and who’s worthy of being deported?
Albeit, this toxic cricket culture isn’t new. It’s not the first time a cricket match has made Indians go crazy. Former Indian Captain and newly-appointed mentor MS Dhoni’s 5-year-old daughter had to bear rape threats after CSK lost an IPL match against KKR, last year. Anushka Sharma, actress and wife of Virat Kohli had to face numerous insults after lost matches and the list goes on. The toxicity has no end to it. As long as the Blue side wins, we are ecstatic, memes and funny advertisements are made as jokes to celebrate this frenemy relationship we have, firecrackers in heavy amounts were ignited. But how could we lose to the team in Green? The 1.3 billion population of India was comfortable at laughing at the expense of our neighbour state and yet finds those very ads and jokes offensive. So offensive, that Kashmiri students were reported to have been attacked after India’s defeat.
Several Kashmiri students were allegedly attacked at educational institutions in Punjab after India’s loss on Sunday night. The Kashmiri students reported that students from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana had barged into their room and thrashed everything. They were rescued by the locals and Punjabi students. Reports of the Kashmiri students chanting “Pakistan Zindabad” also arose. But the question is, is it okay for a non-legal body to take any kind of action without a fair trial and/or jury? Is it not a fundamental right of citizens to have their own opinions, have freedom of speech and do we humans now have no decency and tolerance over another soul’s opinion, however different they may be from one’s own? And is it also not true that India believes Kashmir to be its land and yet Kashmiris were treated like outsiders, guests – ready to be bulldozed and beaten when the need arose? Where does this all end?
Juhi Salim is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Malaika M Khan
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.