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Hijacking of National Self-respect

Hijacking of National Self-respect

Author: Avinash Dharmadhikari
Publication: Maharashtra Times (Marathi Daily)
Date: January 17, 2008

(Article translated from Marathi Daily)

Umpires hijacked the Sydney cricket match. The arrogant and threatening players of Australia corroborated that plan and its execution. Moreover, they kidnapped the presence of Harbhajan Singh who was consistently 'capturing' the wicket of Ricky Ponting. The religious Cricket lovers spread across India were bound to be dreadfully furious at this. Everybody was of the opinion not to seek a compromise with the crooked and domineering opponents. But our leaders were singing the same old song of amity, and formal opposition by first watching the situation, with the ideas of making appeal or underlining the so-called and ill-fitted principles of sportsmanship to this burning situation. There strategy of having faith in the enemy's courtesy that has continued for centuries together was visible once again.

Everything happening till then was in accordance with our country's tradition of surrendering to the injustice inflicted and touching the knees before the aggressors. Passing remarks like, 'Let us bear with them. This much of domination is expected and we should live with it', too is not uncommon. This has throughout been the immortal philosophy propagated by our culture. The masses are willing to rebel but the leaders' remaining silent too is quite according to our tradition. While Draupadi is being humiliated, what else had Yudhishthira had done other than sticking to his chair and what else Bhishmacharya whispered but 'Money rules everybody' (in Sanskrit : Arthasya BCCI Dasaha'). But for the first time, the Sudarshan-Chakra roared out of the Indian cricket team so much so that the team India disembarked from the bus, unloaded their bags and rallied unanimously against the unjust treatment meted out to Harbhajan Singh.

This had never happened earlier. The warrior-like spirited cricketer Sudhir Naik was accused of theft and he had had to return alone from the tour of England. Even Dilip Vengsarkar too was humiliated like this and nobody from the team had questioned it as though it was Vensarkar's personal issue. But now the young Turks valiantly retaliated and refused to travel to Canberra. Only after feeling the heat erupted in the minds of Indians, did the series organizers revised their stance to say, 'Enough is enough'. Now the white teams habituated to dominate us right from hockey to history offered their piece of criticism by saying, 'Nothing doing. Everything happening is correct indeed'. Even the match referee Mike Proctor had earlier expressed, 'Nobody has witnessed what exactly went wrong between Harbhajan and Andrew Symonds and that only Sachin was present in the vicinity'. But the same 'gentleman' Proctor went scot free by only listening to the accusations of the Australian player before announcing the punishment for Harbhajan Singh and he did not even bother to take Sachin's opinion into account. On the contrary, he started justifying himself by saying, 'I am a South African player and I do understand the meaning of racial discrimination. I am not against India and my decision is quite correct.

If this is so, then what is the meaning of what he spoke on the live telecast ?. Besides, it is true that Proctor belongs to South Africa but which South African era does he represent ?. Proctor hides the glaring truth that he belongs to that South African era of white players there when they were implementing the policy of racial discrimination and Indian Government had officially proclaimed its boycott to play with South Africa. In this entire mess the awful behavior of the second umpire went unnoticed. First he asked Ponting whether Clarke indeed caught the catch of Ganguly. Ponting seizes the opportunity and raises his finger and then the umpire follows the suit to raise his finger too and then goes to the extent of threatening a journalist who questioned Ponting for these actions. Even the ICC led by Malcom Speed voice that Steve Buckner will not be removed. Through this momentum alone, did Indian leaders realize their commercial and monetary strength that 70% of the entire world's (official and moral) cricket turnover belongs to India alone.

It is true that Steve Buckner has been removed but the allegations made against Harbhajan are still not withdrawn. Worst still, Australians addressing Indians as 'racist' is the uppermost limit of heretics. How can the word - 'Monkey' - pronounced by Harbhajan be termed as 'racist' ?. Monkey is the ancestor of entire mankind and why should we humiliate entire mankind's ancestor by calling Symonds alone as monkey.

In totality, we lost the match because of our lack of spirit to remain valiant till the last player not because we lacked the qualities necessary to win a match. The spirit that taps these qualities was absent. We pat our own backs for concluding a match into a draw rather than striving to win it. We feel satisfied for winning a tournament with the score of 1-0 which can be won actually with the score of 2-0. it has been our tradition to lose the courage much needed to seize the victory with little more efforts if our leader is knocked out. Not only this but we win the battles and lose them while imposing our terms on the opponents. We apply all our strength to quarrel among ourselves and yet welcome our enemies at home. But we rebel only after being lampooned only to surrender once fake promises are made to us. We deem ourselves triumphant once Steve Buckner is sacked and Harbhajan's punishment is suspended. The real triumph is yet to dawn because the allegations made against Harbhajan are not yet withdrawn completely. Steve Buckner has gone away but not his lingering shadow ?.

Frankly speaking, this whole test match itself be declared as 'unofficial'. Nobody has raised this demand but, I think, that the 'Team India' is aware that their real war begins from now because the third and the fourth tests are yet to be won.

The masses rebelled when cricket match was hijacked. Even the media played a key role to voice the Indian concern against the accusation of India being a racist nation which, no doubt, was indeed a slap on the face of Indian self esteem. But this hijack reminds me the day when IC814 airplane's hijack episode that occurred in our country during December 1999. I fail to remember any instance that the entire nation had rebelled and neither the media had played its role the same way it has played now. On the contrary our media had glorified the tour of Pakistan President Parvez Mushsharraf and had made him a 'hero' to the extent of enthusiastically proving how our Government was pursuing a wrong approach in its bid to rescue the hostage passengers. The nation that unanimously proposes not to make a compromise with Cricket Australia had not adopted the same stand against the ruthless terrorists for hijacking the IC814 from Kathmandu airport and nor do I remember our leadership being bold enough to forewarn the terrorist and their supporters by stating, 'Dare you touch our passengers……'. I fail to remember a single instance of the realization among our leaders that if they would release dreaded terrorists today for the safety of 158 passengers then their cowardice will culminate into the same terrorists attempting to cut the throat of 1580 innocent men and women in future. On the contrary, our Union Minister of External Affairs personally escorted those terrorists in Kandahar and shamelessly congratulated the Taliban forces present there for the safe release of our passengers (whether money was given is never known). The same squad of terrorists released played a leading role in demolishing the World Trade Centre towers in United States and also in butchering the throat of Mr. Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal's journalist by inviting him for an interview. It was later discovered that these terrorists had also played a role in conducting the video shooting of that barbarous act.

I remember, 6 months prior to the IC814 episode, the Kargil war had aroused the self respect of the entire nation and even the media had shouldered its moral responsibility well in portraying the truth of Kargil but the same nation and its people were worried whether their year end fun will get spoilt because f the airplane hijack and hundreds of others were calm at that time. Even after the release of passengers not an iota of zeal 'with an oath of Raja Shivaji' was visible to do anything against the forces behind IC814 episode. What I clearly remember, however, is the treatment meted out to Afzal Guru.

A brutal terrorist attack was carried out on 13th December 2001 to blow the Indian Parliament, the highest symbol of India's democracy. Security personnel offered their lives for the safety of what terrorists intended to devastate. They safeguarded the lives of scores of Members of Parliament and their sacrifice was compensated with a handful of few medals. But the mercy petition of the terrorist leader Afzal Guru remains unresolved even after following a judicial process that proved and declared him guilty of waging a war against the nation. The height of shamelessness is that Hon. Shri. Abdul Kalam, who came to know that the coveted office of being India's president was rejected to him for the second term because he was too efficient and competent, declared that the concerned file of Afzal Guru's mercy petition had not even reached his desk till the last day he held that office - and even after this declaration everything is still the same as it was.

Probably we are waiting for one more airplane to get hijacked for the safe release of Afzal Guru. I sincerely pray that India's awakening shining in last few years does not remain restricted to the domain of Cricket alone and let India rule the world not by aggression or bloodshed but through its intrinsic strength and competence. I pray, let this zeal to be the world leader too not remain restricted to the sphere of cricket alone.

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