Players had to be given sleeping pills to fall asleep a night before an India-Pakistan match“, said Imran Khan, former Pakistan pacer in a statement before the much anticipated India- Pakistan Champions Trophy Final a few days ago. Shedding light on what has been termed as an ‘Arch Rivalry’ between the two countries, this particular statement by Imran Khan itself is a clear validation of how  India-Pakistan cricket matches are more than just a match.

POLITICISATION OF SPORTSMAN-SPIRIT

After the dominating win of Pakistan over India in the Champions Trophy Final, two different kinds of videos went viral on the social media. Some showed Pakistani fans bullying Indian supporters after the win while the other video which surfaced was that of Shoaib Malik and a few players of the Indian Cricket team, visibly including Kohli and Yuvraj sharing a laugh together.

The upsetting element here, however, is how these cricketers drew flak for joking around with the Pakistani players. The criticism came from a large section of population which ridiculed not only the Indian team but also the BCCI for not objecting India’s match with their cross border rival, Pakistan. There were numerous trolls across the internet and comments which indicated that instead of taking revenge for their brothers’ who lose their lives in cross border firing, Indian cricketers on the other hand are indulging in merry-making with the Pakistanis.

FREEDOM BEING COMMUNALIZED in the name of FAKE SEDITION CHARGES?

Who would have thought that a sports match and, also, fan’s support for a particular team would reignite the debate of hyper-nationalism and also resurface the question mark on how tolerant India is as a country.  But yes, the finale between India and Pakistan held on the 18th of this month led to the arrest of 15 Indians. Shocking as it may sound, fifteen men in Madhya Pradesh were charged with sedition for supporting Pakistan in the finale. However, only today, the same charges were proven false as the complainant, Mr. Koli took a reverse turn by stating that nobody had chanted pro-Pakistan slogans on the night of Pakistan’s win. He is now alleging the police of lodging a false complaint under his name and says that he was threatened by the police.

If these revelations are to be believed, then the freedom to express certainly is under a dire threat in the country. The same argument has been supported by Indians across the globe as they believe that supporting different players or teams for that matter could be a plain matter of choice. While many Indians may have ABD from South Africa or Brett Lee from Australia s their favourite, the fact that a false complaint was being filed under the veil of the already existing communal tensions between India-Pakistan is a sad affair.

Similar incidents were reported in Karnataka where six people were arrested for celebrating Pakistan’s victory and two charged with sedition. Well certainly, personal rivals now have found a brilliant way to seek revenge from one another in the name of sedition.

While there is no doubt about how cross border disputes have always escalated tensions within cricket boundariesthe recent Champions trophy final where the two teams met after a decade to fight for a title (T-20 World Cup being the last one in 2007), is a proof of how politics and terror has plagued the gentlemen’s game. Considering the fact that what we are talking about here is an incident related to sports, it certainly isn’t the Pakistani Cricketers who are to be blamed for the strained political relations.  Well, undoubtedly, the India-Pakistan battle has surpassed all the boundaries- whether it is the cricket field boundary or the off field boundary across the border.

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