Amidst the nationalism versus anti-nationalism debate that began after the infamous JNU azadi controversy and the current one involving the ABVP, daughter of a martyr Gurmehar Kaur (@mehartweets) Tweeted a photo of herself holding the placard… Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him.
While anything can trend in any way on Twitter to generate a huge controversy, in the case of this one, people decided to make fun of it. Twitterati started making parodies of this message.
While the Internet was flooded with memes, soon the Indian sporting world was also sucked into the controversy. Master Blaster Virender Sehwag has been very active on Twitter (@virendersehwag) and you may remember his long Twitter spat with British TV personality Piers Morgan.
Well Viru released a similar photo of himself saying: I didn't score two triple centuries, my bat did.
While Viru fans loved it and he got close to 50,000 likes for that Tweet, the liberal intelligentsia was aghast that Viru could become a “troll”. News sites were flooded with articles blasting Viru. (Mind you, Viru has close to 9 million followers on Twitter!)
While Viru refused to apologize and held his ground, things got even more controversial when Bollywood’s Randeep Hooda ReTweeted him.
Things got so bad that Hooda had to give a long explanation on Facebook and even got into a small spat with Gurmehar on Twitter.
Before that controversy could die down, another sportsman jumped into the fray in the form of Yogeshwar Dutt. This wrestler, like Viru, is also very vocal on Twitter and in the past had taken Bollywood superstar head on over his brand ambassadorship of the 2016 Rio Olympics).
If the liberal intelligentsia thought that Viru was bad then Yogeshwar was far far cheekier. He posted a photo montage of Gurmehar’s original placard with three others…
A photo of Hitler saying: Did not kill Jews, gas did.
A photo of Osama saying: Did not kill people, bombs did.
A photo of a black buck saying: Bhai didn’t kill me, bullets did.
That got around six thousand ReTweets.
Despite getting flak he too, just like Viru, refused to back down and posted this famous dialogue from the Bollywood movie Lakshya to defend his case.
Superb reply by Super Londay pic.twitter.com/xqz7q7IlFe— Tajinder Pal S Bagga (@TajinderBagga) February 27, 2017
When journalist Rana Ayyub attacked him, Yogeshwar gave it back to her also again and again…
Madam ji Kabhi desh ke liye bhi bol liya kro ek bar bolo #hindustanjindabad# https://t.co/KhDSiDM7Zv— Yogeshwar Dutt (@DuttYogi) February 28, 2017
Jo bhi desh se gadari kre use fansi honi chaie chae koi bhi ho desh se upr kuch nhi #jaihind# https://t.co/jRDI1znCeh— Yogeshwar Dutt (@DuttYogi) February 28, 2017
"करता था तो क्यों रहा ,अब काहे पछताय ,— Yogeshwar Dutt (@DuttYogi) February 28, 2017
बोया पेड़ बबूल का ,आम कहाँ से खाय।"
Yogeshwar wasn’t the only sportsperson who had a grouse with Ayyub. When the journalist brought Haryana into the picture over Hooda, Dangal real life star Babita Phogat Tweeted…
Haryana ki hi hain hum Phogat sister bhi. Kya jante h aap haryana k bare me . https://t.co/ZWtl5fnEXJ— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) February 27, 2017
She was backed by her sister Geeta…
Now you may well ask why sportspersons jumped into the controversy and refused to budge from their stands. Well, nationalism and patriotism is the one thing that unites soldiers and sportsmen. In very few professions in the world you have to prominently display your country on your sleeve all the time.
When the soldier enters the war arena, it’s nothing but defending India and ensuring its survival. You can’t think of praising the enemy in any way during the conflict. And if you look at the fact that Pakistan has been sponsoring terrorism for more than 25 years now along with all those conflicts, you could say that we are in a continuous state of war with Pakistan.
When the sportsperson enters the international sporting arena, it’s nothing but defending India and ensuring victory. You can’t think of praising the enemy in any way during an intense on-field struggle.
That is why all the sportspersons went after Gurmehar and stuck to their guns.
While the liberal intelligentsia quickly shifted the goalposts to discuss the online abuse Gurmehar faced (those who threatened her should be definitely taken to task), the sportspersons stuck to the core issues of nationalism and patriotism as they felt her totally wrong placard sent the wrong message and they parodied it to make their point.
This is not the first time it has happened. You may remember the way all the sportspersons went after Shobhaa De during the Olympics.
This time also Viru qualified his Tweet with the hashtag #BharatJaisiJagahNahi, which was also used by many others Tweeting against Gurmehar.
Since patriotism and nationalism are the two things that unite soldiers and sportspersons and you can be sure that they will continue to do so and there will be many more controversies over the nationalism and anti-nationalism debate.
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here
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