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DMK Leader Slams ‘Jai Shri Ram’ Slogans At India-Pak Match, BJP Responds

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Earlier, Udhayanidhi Stalin had sparked a row with his remarks on Sanatana Dharma

New Delhi:

DMK leader and Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin has criticised the raising of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans to mock a Pakistan cricketer during the India-Pakistan World Cup match in Ahmedabad Saturday. Mr Stalin’s remarks have drawn a sharp response from BJP leaders, with the party’s national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia calling him a “mosquito” out to “spread poison”. 

Videos of people raising the slogans as Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan walked to the dugout has sparked strong reactions. Many have said the sloganeering was against the spirit of cricket and amounted to harassing the cricketer.

Some voices, however, have pointed out to Mr Rizwan offering namaz on the field and expressing solidarity with the people in war-hit Gaza in an earlier match, alleging that it was the Pakistan cricketer who brought religion to the field.

Taking to X, Ms Stalin said India in known for its sportsmanship and hospitality, and the treatment of players from the neighbouring country was a “new low”.

“India is renowned for its sportsmanship and hospitality. However, the treatment meted out to Pakistan players at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad is unacceptable and a new low. Sports should be a unifying force between countries, fostering true brotherhood. Using it as a tool to spread hatred is condemnable,” he posted.

Earlier, Mr Stalin had sparked a row with his remarks on Sanatana Dharma. The DMK leader, who is the son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and party chief MK Stalin, had said Sanatana Dharma is against the idea of social justice and must be “eradicated”. “Sanatana is like malaria and dengue and so it must be eradicated and not opposed,” he had said in September. The comment had drawn fire from the BJP.

Responding to his latest remark, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia posted on X in Hindi, “This hateful dengue, malaria mosquito is out to spread poison again. You don’t have a problem when a match is paused for namaz on the field,” he said. “Our Lord Ram resides in every corner of the universe, so say Jai Shri Ram,” he added. 

Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale, too, has slammed raising of the slogans to heckle the Pakistani cricketer.

“PM Modi desperately wants India to host the 2036 Olympics. But if this is what BJP has reduced our audiences to – where they heckle a Pakistani player with chants of Jai Shri Ram – massive doubts remain over whether we’re qualified & sporting enough to host ANY international sporting event,” he wrote on X.

India posted a comfortable 7-wicket win against Pakistan Saturday, in its eight straight win against the neighbouring country in the World Cup.

The Pakistan team’s visit to the World Cup and the grand welcome it has received in Hyderabad and Ahmedabad has drawn mixed responses. Many cricket fans have said political differences should not be allowed to ruin the game. Others have pointed to Pakistan’s role in cross-border terrorism and questioned how normal sports relations can be maintained despite tension on the borders.