Mohammad Rizwan, a Pakistani player, was heckled in Ahmedabad, and Udhayanidhi Stalin spoke out against it.

A backlash against the manner Pakistani player Mohammad Rizwan was jeered with “Jai Shri Ram” chants at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad as he walked back after being dismissed on Saturday has been spearheaded by Tamil Nadu’s sports minister, Udhayanidhi Stalin.

“India is renowned for its warmth and sportsmanship. But the way Pakistani players were treated at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium is intolerable and a new low,” DMK leader Udhayanidhi said on X on Sunday.

“Sports should create true fraternity among nations by acting as a unifying force. It is unacceptable to use it as a vehicle for spreading hatred.

After his post, Udayanidhi, who had previously called for the eradication of Sanatana Dharma—he later clarified he was referring to caste discrimination—became the subject of national discussion once more.

K. Annamalai, the president of the BJP in Tamil Nadu, retaliated by saying: “If he says sports should be played for fun, he should equally regard religion as a form of fun. Why did he suggest that Sanatan Dharma be destroyed?

He reminded Udayanidhi that across India during the current World Cup, the Pakistan squad had been treated with dignity.

“India has always treated Pakistani players with respect. We all remember the 1999 Test at Chennai, where Pakistan won by 13 runs (in actuality, 12 runs), Annamalai said to reporters on Sunday.

In many regions of India, Pakistan is highly respected. Pakistan played two matches in Hyderabad, winning both with unexpected support.

Annamalai continued to defend the Ahmedabad audience, saying, “There were many Indians in Ahmedabad yesterday who showed respect to Pakistan. When a Pakistani player passed by, they started chanting “Jai Shri Ram.” I don’t think it’s disrespectful to Pakistan. They did little more than chant.

“Everyone should view a game as a game,” he continued. Emotions will occasionally surface.

Sorry-Pakistan soared on X trends as a result of fan comments supporting and mocking Rizwan’s heckling, which prompted more harsh remarks against those who backed the hashtag.

A user of X named Bala recalled that in 2021, at a drink break during a T20 World Cup match against India, Rizwan had offered namaz.

Maulana Rizwan received the care he merited. Stadion Narendra Modi. What an image. A few years ago, Waqar Younis referred to Rizwan as “Usne Hinduon ke beech mein khade ho ke Namaz padhi.” Karma Hurts awfully hard. JAI SHREE RAM,” wrote Bala.

Others made an appeal for spectators to show their support for all the teams by packing the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai for Pakistan’s games against Afghanistan on October 23 and South Africa on October 27.

An X user, Joy, posted a video clip of Chennai fans giving a standing ovation to Pakistani players after they defeated India in 1999, highlighting the contrast with what took place in Ahmedabad.

“1999. Chennai. Pakistan defeated India by 12 runs in a thrilling match. Everyone in Stadium, though heartbroken, gave them a Standing Ovation for the excellent Cricket they played. That’s how Civilised people behave. They don’t Chant religious slogans in Stadium to mock opponents,” Joy commented.

Several others slammed the Ahmedabad fans’ behaviour.

“Very bad. I do not approve of this behaviour of shouting JSR to Rizwan. Anyone who shows me evidence that you were there & doing this, I will cook you a 10 course meal with fine wine & counsel you on why I do not approve of this behaviour,” Abhijit Iyer-Mitra commented on X.

“It’s cricket for God sake! Few chants Jai Shri Ram when Rizwan is coming back after he got out, this is neither Bhakthi nor Sanskar! It’s just bigotry and it brings us international shame!” Vijay Thottathil posted.

Former Test cricketer Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, however, took offence at a post by senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai questioning the Ahmedabad fans’ behaviour.

Sardesai had commented on X: “Afternoon musing: in our park in the morning, we often say ‘Ram Ram’ as an affectionate greeting to each other. Why then use Jai Shri Ram as an aggressive chant to mock Pakistani players? Lord Ram is Maryada Purshottam: he must bring enlightenment, not evoke enmity. Agree?”

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