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'Hero' Sangakkara bats for harmony just when Indian cricketers and celebrities share fake news, fall to bigotry

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Communalism  Celebrities  Bigotry  Communalism in Bollywood  Fake news  Hatred  Kumar Sangakkara  India  Sri Lanka




Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Kumar Sangakkara has once again emerged as a hero by taking a stand and urging citizens in Sri Lanka to maintain harmony.

Sangakkara has spoken when it was needed the most--there were attacks on Muslims in the island nation and a country-wide curfew was imposed. A message from a cricketer and celebrity of his stature who has millions of fans, always has an impact.

One of the all-time great batsmen, Sangakkara on Tuesday asked Sri Lankas to unite and keep each other safe. He spoke against violence, racism and hatred. Not just Sri Lankans but people from across the world, praised him for the stand at such a crucial juncture.

The former Sri Lanka cricket captain tweeted, 'STOP. BREATHE. THINK. OPEN YOUR EYES. If we lose ourselves in violence, racism, thuggery and hatred we lose our country. Unite as Sri Lankans, be peaceful, keep each other safe. Do not give into shameful, divisive political agendas. WE HEAL AND RISE TOGETHER AS ONE NATION'.

But this is in sharp contrast to the character of cricketers in India. In the last couple of years, Indian cricketers haven't taken such stand. In fact, many of them have used social media to share messages that spread bigotry, rather than a message to heal. This is despite the growing communalism, lynchings and a daily barrage of fake news that is used to divide people on communal lines.

Many cricketers have shown little attempt to unite the society, rather, there have been offensive messages and objectionable tweets that have either been tweeted or RTed from their accounts. Far from giving a call for unity, they have themselves fallen to fake news and divisive messages apart from circulating xenophobic views.

Gautam Gambhir is another example of a cricketer whose tweets led to strong reaction in the past. Virender Sehwag had tried to give a communal twist to a lynching incident and had to later delete the tweet when there was condemnation from all quarters. Legendary cricket stars whose voice could make a change have kept mum.

That's not just about cricket. Several Bollywood celebrities had already taken the path, routinely peddling fake news or posting inflammatory messages. The list of such actors is long and includes some starlets too. 

While this has been a patten in India to build a new career out of hate and bigotry, it is indeed worrying how the celebrities here do not even speak for harmony or unity, rather, many of them chart an altogether different course. In a country where cricket is seen as a religion and cricket stars have huge following, shouldn't they try to act as real life heroes too? Is it too much to expect from them.

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Journalist for more than 20 years. Had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, later Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post, writes for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.