india, Politics

Disappointed, my cricket hero chose to enter wholly politicized debate: Shashi Tharoor on Gurmehar-Sehwag row

Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor is the latest personality to join the intense ongoing debate on 20-year-old Gurmehar Kaur’s Facebook posts. The leader strongly expressed regret over cricketer Virender Sehwag’s tweet that was seen as mocking Kaur’s views about her father’s death.

Sehwag has taken a jibe at Kaur, a Delhi University student who took on Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) workers for creating a ruckus outside Ramjas College last week with a signature placards. The cricketer didn’t name Kaur, a daughter of Captain Mandeep Singh who was killed in the 1999 Kargil war, but shared a photo of him standing with a placard that reads, “I didn’t score two triple centuries, my bat did.”

Kaur had released videos months back in which she had stated that it was not Pakistan but the war (between two countries) that killed her father. Sehwag’s picture may be a copy of that and was commended by Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda and few others. Soon Sehwag attracted huge backlash and were being called insensitive towards a soldier’s daughter by many.

Now Shashi Tharoor has joined the bandwagon and took to Facebook on late Tuesday evening to express what he feels about the entire issue and Sehwag’s jibe at Kaur. Here’s what he has to say:

My brief reflections on Virender Sehwag’s picture tweet responding to the words of Gurmehar Kaur

I am disappointed that my cricket hero Virender Sehwag chose to enter the wholly politicized debate over Gurmehar Kaur’s words by saying “I didn’t score two triple centuries, bat did.”

Not everyone might agree with an idealist student’s comment: “Pakistan did not kill my father, war killed him.” We all know that “war” does not happen in the abstract, but as the result of concrete policies pursued by governments and armies. We also know that the Kargil War that killed Gurmehar’s father was imposed on India by Pakistan, and it was a tragedy inflicted on her family, and hundreds of other brave soldiers’ families, by malign men across the border. It might be more correct, therefore, to say “All Pakistanis did not kill my father; those Pakistanis who started this war killed him.”

But who are we, who have not endured what Gurmehar did at a tender age, to substitute our worldly-wise realpolitik for the idealism of a 20-year old student? Viruji, it does not do justice to the memory of the martyr for any of us to be insensitive to the feelings of his family, however emotional their words may be, since they, not us, have suffered the brunt of the loss, and is their prerogative to react to that loss.

You used to silence opposition bowlers with the power of your bat. Do not let cynics exploit the power of your words to silence a young woman’s idealism.

Debates on television channels, lacking in nuance and, in some cases, basic common sense, missed the point that she used the correct word “war”. She did not say “bullets”. Her point was that it was not just the bullets that killed him, but the war that caused those bullets to fly. So it was not just your bat that scored those triple hundreds, Viruji, but the man who wielded that bat to such astonishing effect.

That is why your seemingly witty counter to her is not only wrong, it is also trivializes a serious issue concerning war, loss, and deeply personal emotions that are felt only by those who have suffered.

War is still, as Roosevelt said, ‘Young men dying and old men talking’. You are too young to join the old men who are pouring cold water on Gurmehar’s hopes and dreams.

I remember something you said some years ago, I believe during your convocation ceremony at Jamia Millia, where you were presented with your degree. You said then that this degree was more important to you than your triple hundred.

I hope, Viruji, that you will now revisit what that degree stands for, and what is expected not only from a public figure of your standing but also from an evolved, educated mind.

I admire that Gurmehar has the courage of her convictions and is willing to stand up for them. In time, she will learn the importance of nuance in the way she expresses herself, so as not to incur this kind of criticism. Meanwhile, let us give her the moral support her family’s sacrifice deserves.

Jai Hind!

Latest Update