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India's sports icons speak up in favour of Justice for Asifa

Indias sports icons speak up in favour of Justice for Asifa
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Published: 13 April 2018 1:02 PM GMT
There is no justice for Asifa. The eight-year-old was abducted, brutalised, sedated, repeatedly gang-raped and killed by a group of men ' some of the policemen ' in a temple at Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua. Communal lines have been drawn. The accused said they wanted to teach a lesson to the Bakherwal Muslim community in the region, to which Asifa belonged. As the anger over a system of religious prejudice killing a child pours out, representatives of the Central ruling party in the J&K government are now accused of shielding the accused. The same party's supporters have come out in justification of the incident. In the aftermath of the charge sheet being presented on Wednesday, April 11, the silence of the men and women in power has been telling. On the other hand, the silence of some of the most felicitated sportspersons in the country only comes as a beacon of hope at a time when the Virender Sehwags and Gautam Gambhirs of the world are all too ready to take up their cudgels in drawing communal lines even sharper on Twitter. Geeta Phogat, a woman of many firsts in Indian wrestling, on Thursday became one of the first in Indian sports to speak for Asifa. This is a brave move. Her sister Babita had, a while ago, spoken in support of the Indian CRPF soldiers in Kashmir, slamming the stone-pelters in the state. From her tweets alone, Babita appears to be a fan of the government, particularly the prime minister, often thanking him for moves like the ban on the instant triple talaq. https://twitter.com/geeta_phogat/status/984387217081577472 Babita's position is not unique. For a sportsperson to flourish in any country, the support of the government is tantamount. From fundings for tournaments abroad to necessary government jobs, a sportsperson is in need of a benevolent system and as such, no player can afford to alienate it. We, therefore, often see glowing praises of the sports ministry and the government from India's top players, who often engage in little social commentary. Fellow wrestler, Yogeshwar Dutt also sent out his own two cents on Twitter and hit hard at the very essence of what is wrong with humanity. His tweet read, "#sasaram #kathua and also how many unreported events. Where are we going. High profile in big cities and untouched on heinous crime in small towns no place. No law, no system can do anything when the character is not the only proper development. #shame" Perhaps the only sportspersons immune from the necessity of government eulogising are India's cricketers. Yet it is some of them who seem to be linearly devoted to speaking along the communal lines of a party. Virender Sehwag might not be playing much cricket now, but he can sure sieve Muslim names out of Hindu ones in a list of accused in the murder of a mentally-challenged Dalit man in Kerala, and tweet about it. https://twitter.com/GautamGambhir/status/984364964315127808 Gautam Gambhir, once a quiet presence on the field, is now content to challenge Pakistani ex-cricketer Shahid Afridi on social media, over who 'owns' Kashmir. Gambhir called Afridi a 'retard' in this regard. Both have, however, tweeted on the need for justice for Asifa. Afridi's one-time colleague on the field, Shoaib Malik, has as his wife tennis star Sania Mirza, who is reminded of her marriage and de-facto 'Pakistani' identity on social media every time she tweets on a social issue. This time was no exception. https://twitter.com/Kichu_chirps/status/984325015666642945 Sania asked if this was the country we wanted, where children will be raped and killed. She met replies which asked her, 'What about the rapes of Hindu women?' and particular question by one 'Kichu Kannan Namo' who describes himself as a lyricist and social media coordinator of the BJP, drew Sania's attention. Asked if she was Pakistani or India, Mirza put an end to the whataboutery with a blast of truth ' justice for a child's brutalisation cannot be along national or communal lines. https://twitter.com/MirzaSania/status/984330940259360768 In what is an increasingly fraught social media playing field, Mohammad Kaif's voice comes in a background where representatives of minority communities seem to be bearing the burden of secularism singularly on their shoulders. He had, earlier, told Afridi in reply to the latter's comments on monetisation of the IPL that peace is a two-way street. Kaif, too, has questioned humanity itself in the light of the incident. Probably, the most poignant observation came from the Indian football team captain, Sunil Chhetri, who pointed out that the horrific crimes that have been committed were far too gruesome for anything to make it right again. He tweeted: https://twitter.com/chetrisunil11/status/984463888325513216 Following this, he also added, "This is not the first time something as ghastly has taken place. But one step to making it the last time would be serving justice and serving it strong." In the lopsided, chaotic powerplay that is Indian sports, it seems the only time severely different opinions come together for a cause is when something as atrocious as this happens. ALSO READ : Commonwealth Games 2018: KT Irfan, Rakesh Babu sent home after violation of No Needle Policy, Updates
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