Indians slam ‘unapologetic Islamophobia’ aimed at Pakistan’s cricket team

It started with deafening boos when Pakistan captain Babar Azam took his turn to speak after the toss in the middle of the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad and carried on long after India had inflicted another heavy loss on their neighbours in the ICC Cricket World Cup.

The Pakistani cricketers were at the receiving end of incessant hostilities from the crowd during their match against the hosts at the world’s biggest cricket stadium, named after India’s prime minister and leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in his hometown.
As the match got under way, and with Pakistan fans effectively banned by the Indian authorities, the partisan nature of the crowd became evident as any boundary scored by the Pakistani batters was met with pin-drop silence.

When Muhammad Rizwan – Pakistan’s hero in their run chase against Sri Lanka earlier last week – walked back to the pavilion after his dismissal, the crowd surrounding the walkway mockingly greeted him with chants of “Jai Shri Ram [Hail Lord Ram]”.

The Hindi-language chant has emerged as a war cry by Hindu far-right groups and is often used in a derogatory manner against the country’s Muslim population.

Pakistan were dismissed for 191 runs in 42.5 overs, setting an easy target for India’s star-studded batting lineup amid a sea of blue Indian shirts in the stands.

India captain Rohit Sharma smashed six sixes and six fours as India eased home, much to the delight of the thousands of supporters seated in the saffron-coloured stands.

The jubilant crowd made it a point to add insult to injury and shouted expletive-laden chants when Pakistan stepped on to the field as Sharma and his team made merry on the pitch.

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