Hooligans of the Hindu Right Fan the Flames of Hate around India-Pakistan World Cup Match : An account from Delhi


March 1, 2003 | New Delhi

[ Posted on South Asia Citizens Wire | 16 March 2003]

The following personal account was written on the morrow of the India Pakistan cricket match. The questions that emerge from this are a source of deep concern for all secular Indians.

Why must celebration demand pain and ill will on
another? Is'nt there something sick about a
nationalism that exults in hatred and venom, the
destruction of the other? March 1'st 2003, Shivratri,
India and Pakstian were playing a cricket match . I
was with my friend Ditee at our place in Vijay Nagar
in North Delhi. We went to our landlord's place to
watch the match on T.V. Our landlord informed us that
a private Dog Clinic owner had put up a screen and
sound system on the road, and the match was been
projected in the open. Ditee refused to go, but I went
out to see what was happening.

When I reached there, I was shocked. More than a
thousand people with banners reading "Best of luck
India", had blocked the road to watch the match. They
were shouting slogans like; "Jeetega bhai Jeetega,
Hindustan Jeetega!", "Pakistan hai hai!", "Hindustan
zindabad!-Pakistan murdabad!". I began feeling uneasy.
Suddenly my landlord walked up to me and said, "We
must go to the Jama Masjid area to see the muslims
crying". I got angry and asked, "Why? Aren't they
Indians? India is winning, why would they cry?". He
replied, "No, you are a Hindu and that is why they
show they are pro India. Actually all 'Katuas' are
anti-India". For a moment I felt like confornting him.
But then I felt scared. I didn't have the courage to
tell him that I am not a Hindu, I am an Indian, a
human being, a middle class college student, an
atheist. I felt I was in the middle of a mob, and to
stay with them I 'd have to become someone else. I
felt claustrophobic, I walked off. A hundred yards or
so and I calm down. I decided to stand at a distance
and watch the crowd. Towards the end of the match it
got more agressive. Slogans rent the air, "Bharat Mata
ki jai!","mullon ko hara do!". Fortunately the police
came and dispersed the mob. People started running. It
was a riot like situation. But within five minutes as
the crowd lessened the screening started again. I
walking back home and on my way I heard, "Jeet gaye!
Jeet gaye!"; India had won the match.

Ditee was waiting for me on the balcony. I was
telling her what I had seen on the streets. Crackers
started bursting and the sky lit up with fire works.
The victory of the Indian team was being celebrated.
Peole spread out across Vijay Nagar, Model Town,
Kingsway Camp area. Processions covered the street,
slogans once again rent the air, "Pakistan Hai Hai!",
"Bharat Mata ki jai!", "Hara diya!, Mullon ko hara
diya!", "Katuon ko maro!". Ditee and I were watching
the procession from above. Suddenly I spotted a boy
of six or seven shouting, " Oye Katue haar gaye!". I
was zapped at the boy's language and size. I remember
what I had seen one year ago in Gujarat. But the sense
of security which I was ashamed of didn't exist this
time. My 'brahman' surname was no more a social
security. Ditee clutched me as if the mob was
physically attacking us. We ran inside the room and
called up my teacher and friend Mukul. Just a day
before we'd been remembering the Gujarat genocide.

I went back to the chowk of the mohalla and they were
there again, an agressively violent mob of youngster
with the national and saffron flag, shouting, "Maro!
Maro! Katuon ko Maro!", "Jai Shree Ram!", "Shiv-Ratri
rang layee hai!". The youngest boy may have been ten
years old. They were stopping every passing car and
congratulating the passengers. I started to run back
home. A large number of scooterist overtook me. The
riders and pillions were wearing saffron headbands,
the last one carrying a 'dholak'. These were followed
by 'nagaras' of the Shiv Sena. When I reached back
Ditee refused to stand and watch these 'celebration'.
We went inside and she said,"I was wondering, how
would we give birth to children in this environment?". I had
no answer.

That night we didn't eat dinner and talked till 2:30
wandering what was happening to the world around us.
Celebrations like this didn't reflect only joy and
happiness. These mobs were dancing on democracy's
funeral. I wasn't in a position to even clap on the
victory of my country's team because this too become
an excuse to show hatred, to me it felt as if I'd lost
the battle to communalism. Crackers and abuses, flags
and communal slogans, what kind of nationalism is
this? Is this 'cultural' nationalism? If yes, which
culture is this?

* (Student of History, Delhi University)

return to New collection at South Asia Citizens Web

Return to South Asia Citizens Web