Humiliating cricket defeat exposes India’s Hindu-Muslim divide

After India were surged by arch-rival Pakistan in the T20 Cricket World Cup, quick bowler Mohammed Shami was damned by furious Hindu fans who implicated the group’s only Muslim gamer of intentionally tossing the video game.

Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, fired back, pointing out Shami’s “passion for the country” and his other elite efficiencies for the group. “Attacking someone over their religion is the most pathetic thing a human being can do,” Kohli stated, for which he underwent a gush of abuse in addition to risks versus his young child child.

India was among the favourites to win the World Cup however have actually struggled to make an effect on the competition and are on the verge of removal after losing to New Zealand in their next video game.

Shami did not bowl well versus Pakistan however neither did any of his non-Muslim colleagues as they stopped working to take a single wicket in Dubai.

“The Hindu-Muslim divide is so deep in the public sphere,” stated Hilal Ahmed, a teacher at New Delhi’s Centre for the Research Study of Establishing Societies. “If India wins, the credit will go to Hindu players. But if India loses, the responsibility will be put on Muslim players.”

India’s rage over the lost cricket match is not restricted to social networks. Charged of commemorating Pakistan’s success, a number of Indian Muslims — a school instructor, engineering trainees and trainees and personnel of a Kashmiri medical college — were sacked from federal government tasks, expelled from their colleges and even apprehended on charges of terrorism and sedition.

Students in Kolkata hold placards supporting Mohammed Shami after his loyalty was questioned
Trainees in Kolkata hold placards supporting Mohammed Shami after his commitment was questioned © Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP through Getty Images

The heavy-handed action shows the deepening marginalisation of India’s Muslim neighborhood, whose 200m residents are consistently portrayed by the judgment Bharatiya Janata Celebration as an internal security risk.

“This shows a paranoid nationalism wherein you are looking for enemies,” stated political researcher Asim Ali. “Cricket provides the acid test to prove patriotism . . . It’s all about using big events to drive home the message that Muslims’ loyalty is always in question. You cannot trust Muslims to be patriotic.”

Indian federal governments utilized to promote consistency in between the Hindu bulk and Muslim minority, stressing the nation’s nonreligious polity. However experts stated the BJP was redefining India as a mostly Hindu country, in which Muslims would be endured if they acknowledge Hindu supremacy and stay within distinct borders.

Most BJP-ruled states have criminalised interfaith marriages, citing an alleged Muslim “love jihad” plot to erode Hindus’ numerical superiority, and restricted the meat and leather trade, from which many Muslims draw their livelihood.

Officials supportive of the Hindu agenda are also using colonial-era laws to harass and intimidate Muslims, often at the instigation of Hindu mobs.

This year, a young Muslim comedian spent 36 days in jail after Hindu vigilantes took exception to some of his irreverent jokes, and demanded his arrest under a colonial statute making it a crime to “deliberately outrage the religious feelings of any community”.

Few such cases result in criminal convictions, and lawyers said sedition charges for cheering for Pakistan were unlikely to be successful. But given the sluggish pace of the overloaded courts, prisoners awaiting trial face long incarcerations and hefty legal fees before being freed.

“It has become normal to file criminal complaints disproportionately against Muslims whose speech doesn’t conform to the Hindu supremacist narrative,” said Karuna Nundy, a Supreme Court lawyer. “The process that follows is itself the punishment . . . Once you are in the system, it can take a long time to get bail.”

Ordinary Muslims are not the only Indians under legal pressure. The country has been mesmerised by last month’s jailing of Aryan Khan, the 23-year-old son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who has served as a brand ambassador for the opposition-ruled state of West Bengal.

The younger Khan was arrested on a cruise from Mumbai to Goa and accused of an international drug “conspiracy”. No drugs were found in his possession and the main evidence cited was a WhatsApp message about having “a blast”.

He was detained for 25 days before being freed on bail and now awaits prosecution on what many in the public see as trumped-up charges.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a leading academic, called the case “an expansion of the empire of fear and cruelty” intended as a powerful warning from the government to Indian society. “The point is to say, ‘we can make life miserable even for Aryan Khan,’” Mehta wrote in the Indian Express.

Experts expect religious polarisation to intensify in the coming months as the BJP prepares for next year’s elections in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state and a BJP stronghold.

Ali stated the prosecution of Muslims had acquired an “organic” momentum, as civil servants tried to please their BJP political bosses in a “competitive radicalisation” of state machinery.

“Anti-Muslim actions get you into the favour of the top establishment,” he stated.

Ahmed, from the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, stated the BJP was stoking communal tensions to draw attention away from an economy still struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The country is facing a tremendous economic crisis,” Ahmed stated. “But to divert attention we are raising issues of Hindu victimhood and Muslim victimhood. You need film stars and cricket stars to create an environment where economics will not become national issues.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.