Updated: June 18, 2020 2:53:51 pm
“Pakistan did not kill my father, war did”
“I didn’t score two triple centuries, my bat did”
The above two quotes have been at the centre of a storm in public discourse in recent days. The first is that of 20-year-old Gurmehar Kaur, a student of New Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College and the daughter of Captain Mandeep Singh who was martyred in year 1999. The second is that of Virender Sehwag, one of the greatest batsmen ever to play for India and a person who has built a reputation for dead-pan humour in his tweets and commentary since retiring from the sport.
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Since these two statements have become embroiled in the aforementioned storm, both have received contrasting responses. While those with the verified tags on their social media handles have either commended Sehwag for expressing his view on the issue, plenty have asked those criticising him to take it as a joke and enjoy it while they are at it.
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) 26 February 2017
Let us take a step back for a moment. In the video that was uploaded last year before a single clip from it caused such a furore, Kaur says that she was two years old when her father passed away. She also says that as a young girl she hated Pakistan for what that country did to her father. She says that she hated all Muslims as she thought they were all Pakistanis and goes on to confess that she tried to stab a lady in a burkha when she was six years old. She later says that, with help from her mother, she understood hatred spews hatred. If there was no war between the two countries in the first place, her father would have still been with her. She tries to make it clear that war is the problem and not a single country, regardless of which one started it. In the video, the words have been written on placards and Kaur displays no emotions as she holds each one up.
All those criticising or, as Sehwag did, trolling her seem to have blissfully ignored the other contents in the video and fixated on the one clip with the placard saying, “Pakistan did not kill my father, war did.” If Sehwag was only joking about it, he made fun of a person’s feelings about what killed her father. But this is a free country and he is entitled to making jokes about anything he wishes to train his guns on. It is at this juncture that the question of responsibility comes into play. Sehwag is a household name in the country. There is no denying the fact that he is one of the most prominent individuals to have played cricket in Indian colours. Even after retirement, he has remained vital in the public eye as a pundit, cricket expert and the jokes on Twitter. Naturally, his words carry value. When he criticises or trolls someone publicly, his words are amplified. His joke on Kaur has been seconded by actor Randeep Hooda. These are not just theories. Since he made his ‘joke,’ Kaur has been at the receiving end of bullying on social media. It has led to her withdrawal from the #SaveDU campaign and fleeing Delhi altogether. Sehwag’s tweet may not be the sole reason behind all this. He made it clear in a series of tweets he put up on Wednesday that he had never intended “bully anyone over their opinion.” Even the, it has undeniably acted as a catalyst.
Sehwag’s humorous tweets have been enjoyed by one and all. But this time, he has made a mistake. He has contributed to the social media persecution that a girl has gone through for demanding peace between two countries. The responsible thing would have been to take that tweet down and admit to this mistake.
While his brash attitude on the field was something that has won matches for India on numerous occasions, there have also been times when that has backfired. During his playing days, he was accused of being reckless by critics and former cricketers whenever he threw his wicket away trying to play a needlessly aggressive shot. It seems, off the field, Sehwag has committed the same mistake.
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