Irfan Pathan on anti-CAA protest: Not about particular faith, but whole student community

Updated: Dec 18, 2019, 07:42 IST | Harit N Joshi | Mumbai

Ex-cricketer Irfan Pathan on why he supports the students of India and their right to protest.

While the nation is condemning the brutal attack on students at Jamia Millia Islamia University by Delhi police during their protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, only a couple of sportspersons have come out in support of the students. Ex-India pacer Irfan Pathan speaks to mid-day about how the issue is not about students from a particular faith, but about the safety of the student community, which has decided to speak out over an issue.

Pathan was the first cricketer to tweet on Sunday and show his solidarity with the students. Barring former Test players, Pathan and Aakash Chopra, cricketers, who are role models for many Indians, have maintained silence on the crackdown.

Excerpts from the interview:

What made you tweet about the violence against the students?

To be honest, I was following the unfolding events and after giving it a lot of thought, I tweeted. I was just worried about the safety of the students. There is nothing against anyone. It was very, very clear from my tweet that the political game will go on forever. People shouldn't get into politics or into any other faiths. It is just about the safety of the students. In Jamia University, there aren't students belonging to just one faith; there is diversity. I don't know where the link of one particular faith is going. My tweet was regarding the safety of students. That's it. I thought I should speak up and I did.

What would you say is a solution for such incidents?

If I wanted to provide a solution, I would have done that in my tweet itself. There are many countries where protests take place. We are not the only country where this (protest) happens. People protest and then they go away; but in our country, there are a lot of elements. There are a lot of fake social media accounts to instigate people. But the reality is different. There is still a lot of love among people (of different religions) and there is a brotherhood. Our nation's identity is that people from all faiths can live peacefully together, no matter how much hatred you spread through fake social media accounts. It is important to show some maturity — be it on part of the students, people or authorities. If the objective is for the betterment of the country, then things will be much better.

Do you fear repercussions to the tweet? Why would that happen when the truth is being spoken? Would you urge other sportspersons to speak up now?

Speaking up is an individual's choice; each person has different beliefs. When the Pulwama terror attack happened earlier this year, I was in Jammu (with the J&K team). I saw people burning their own people's cars from my hotel room. There was a curfew and I had to leave with my son from the hotel. People did not do anything to us but the people in Jammu were burning cars or destroying public property. I did not tweet at the time because I understood the situation was sensitive. I knew people were angry as our CRPF jawans were martyred in the attack. I understood the anger of the people. However, I do not believe in burning cars of destroying public property. That should not be the case, ever. No one should be given the authority to damage public property.

However, here, the protest had nothing to do with faith; it wasn't about a particular student. It was about the student community as a whole. This is about our security forces as well because theirs is not an easy job. There is a need to find a better solution.

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