I spent the evening of ICC World Cup Cricket finals at a friend’s place with his other friends and a common friend. Even though I have no idea about Cricket as a sport and have never watched a full game, I thought at least I would spend some time with friends and take some time off baby-sitting. To add more jazz to the evening was vodka that my friend had bought, so we had a joyful time.
By the time the game reached at it’s peak, I was becoming curious to see if India would win and my friends would explain what each run or the remaining balls meant to decide the climax of the game. At that point, the game had become all the more interesting to me with the booze, cheering friends and a desire to see the country winning the world cup. And when that sixer came out from Dhoni we all cheered aloud for team India. When we went out after the game by nearly midnight, there were crowds of men celebrating the win with burning crackers and playing drums. Everybody was in full spirits that their country won a world cup in the last 28 years and were so happy about it, but no single word of abuse against Sri Lankans in all of those celebrations.
But when we won a semi-final against Pakistan, the response was different.
Just winning one match against the neighboring country had fueled our patriotism so much so that we dragged the women who were going home after work out of their vehicles and asked to them to dance with the mob. When refused, they were beaten up leaving one of them women with a bleeding nose. The news come from the same place where women were attacked for going to pubs and dancing, except that this time the women were asked to dance. (People from Bangalore also said that their vehicles were stopped and they were asked to sing “Vande Mataram“).
Just imagine if we were on a war with Pakistan and won and mobs like these knocking on our doors, forcing us to sing Vande Mataram, dragging our womenfolk to the road to dance with them, or beating them up for refusing to do so. Patriotism, fueled by a sport – and some sportsmen.
The blame is not to be put solely on those men of mobs, but also on some of the so-called “Men in Blue”. The same folks who are supposed to keep the ‘sportsman spirit’ of the sport. A young chap called Gautam Gambhir said ‘a win against Pakistan and a win in the final and that too in Mumbai should be dedicated to’ 26/11 victims. He says a win against Pakistan would soothe the pain of 26/11 victims. Either he is a stupid young man or he is very cautiously building up an image by banking upon a mix of patriotism and sports.
What does the Pakistani cricket team has to do with 26/11 anyway? And how is a win against Pakistan in a sport event going to “soothe the pain” of the 26/11 victims? And how does that win justify the violence against our own countrymen and it’s womenfolk in particular? Up to his standards, should Gautam Gambhir have rejoiced at defeating Lankans too? Because Rajiv Gandhi, a former Indian prime minister, was killed by a Sri Lankan group. Would he think that it would “soothe the pain” of those who were killed at Perumputhur? While boasting up on the media, Gautam Gambhir should have given it a serious thought.
And if it is this sport of hatred that is running in Gautam Gambhir’s, and the Team India’s, blood, I don’t bleed blue. I never will.
Also read: Soothing the pain