The unexpected but spectacular win by Pakistan over India in a T20 World Cup cricket match on Sunday 24 October led to a wave of anti-Muslim frenzy in India incited by Hindutva elements under the patronage of the ruling BJP government.
Soon after the game ended, Mohammed Shami, the only Muslim in the Indian cricket team, was viciously trolled and abused online. Social media users accused him of deliberately giving runs to the Pakistani team, while others labelled him a traitor.
A number of TV anchors known for their blind support for the BJP government went on an anti-Pakistan tirade and unsubstantiated accusations of Indian Muslims celebrating Pakistani victory after the match.
There were several reports of mobs in a number of places in India raising anti-Pakistan slogans, intimidating Muslim Indians and vilifying Islam.
In the northern state of Punjab there were reports of attacks on Kashmiri students allegedly for celebrating Pakistan’s victory in the cricket match.
Police in the Kashmir valley charged a number of students and staff at two medical colleges under the draconian anti-terror laws allegedly for shouting pro-Pakistan slogans during the match.
An the city of Agra, UP three Kashmiri university students accused of celebrating Pakistani victory, were arrested by police egged on by a mob raising “Pakistan murdabad” death to Pakistan.
The three students were promptly suspended by their college pressured by members of the BJP and were charged for sedition and treason under IPC Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (1)(B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public), and 66-F of the Information Technology Act for allegedly sending WhatsApp messages “against the country” after the India Pakistan match.
The lawyers in Agra have refused to represent the Kashmiri students in the court. The Chairman of the Agra Bar Association Pramod Sharma said, “If you raise slogans against India while living in the country, it is not acceptable. It was a decision of the entire Bar Association that no one will represent the youths. As a citizen of this country, one must follow its policies. And if the same does not happen, it must be criticised.”
It has now become a crime in the largest democracy of the world to cheer up your favourite sports team or sports star and if you do not comply with this nationalistic jingoism, your can be deemed a traitor or even a terrorist.
Thankfully the Indian cricket team still displayed sportsman spirit and captain Virat Kohli strongly came to the defence of Mohammed Shami trying to keep religion and national politics out of sport.