Shahid Afridi joins chorus of Pakistanis slamming detention of his Indian fan

Updated: Dec 22, 2016, 20:46 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

Months after Pakistan arrested Virat Kohli fan, a Shahid Afridi fan experienced the same fate with the police detaining him for anti-national activities. Afridi and many others on Twitter slammed the move

Ripon Chowdhury was arrested after a complaint was filed by a right-wing group
Ripon Chowdhury was arrested by the police in Assam after a complaint was filed by a right-wing group

Cricket is a religion in the Indian sub-continent. And time and again cricketers have appealed to citizens and politicians to keep politics and the game separate.

Well, that looks like an impossibility.

In what is being seen as a mirror to what Pakistani authorities did in January 2016 when they arrested a die-hard Virat Kohli fan, police in the Indian state of Assam detained a youth recently for wearing a jersey with Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi's number embossed on it during a cricket match.

According to reports, Ripon Chowdhury was apprehended by local police following a complaint filed by the youth wing of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The police are said to have arrested the youth and lodged a case under section 120(B), 294 of the Indian Penal code.

In January 2016, a die-hard fan of India Test skipper Virat Kohli was arrested in Pakistan and was facing up to 10 years imprisonment for hoisting the Indian tri-colour atop his home in Punjab Province which he claimed to have done to show his love for the cricketer.

22-year-old Umer Daraz, a tailor by profession from Okara district of Punjab province, was arrested and sent him to jail on judicial remand. Daraz was arrested on January 26 when India beat Australia in a T20 match and Kohli scored 90 runs. Police raided Draz home on a complaint that he hoisted the Indian flag on the rooftop of his house.

Police registered a case under section 123-A of Pakistan Penal Code and 16 Maintenance of Public Order against him. The section 123-A (acts of damaging the sovereignty of the country) carries maximum punishment of 10 years in jail or fine or both.

Draz pleaded before the judge that he hoisted the Indian flag only for his love for Kohli. Police had sought his physical remand for investigation into the case, however, the judge sent him to jail on judicial remand.

Talking to reporters Draz said: "I am a big fan of Virat Kohli. I support the Indian team because of Kohli. Hoisting of Indian flag on the rooftop of house only shows my love for the Indian cricketer."

He said he had no idea that he committed a crime, urging the authorities concerned to pardon him as he should be seen as "an Indian cricketer's fan."

After Umer's case caught the media's attention, Indian cricket fans rallied behind him while ridiculing Pakistan. There was also talk of Virat Kohli talking to the Pakistan government in this regards with Virat's brother, Vikas, giving assurances that the cricketer would take the issue forward.

Even Shiv Sena had in its mouthpiece, 'Saamana' had flayed Umer's arrest.

Umer Daraz, Virat Kohli's fan was arrested in Pakistan in January22-year-old Umar Draz, a tailor by profession from Okara district of Punjab province, was arrested for hoisting the Indian flag atop his house in Pakistan. Pic/PTI

Well, Afridi has spoken out in support of his fan. THe Pakistan cricketer expressed disappointment about the detention of his fan. "It is shameful that such an incident should take place. It is sad that politics is being played with cricket," Afridi was quoted as saying by 'Jang' newspaper.

Afridi said he would appeal to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to look into the matter.

"Such incidents highlight intolerance and should be condemned. Because if there are fans of Pakistan cricket players in India the same is the case in Pakistan where there are fans of Indian players," Afridi said.

"Cricket fans should only be seen as cricket lovers in both countries." Afridi reiterated that cricket should be kept away from politics.

He said fans in both India and Pakistan put the sport above the often-fraught relations between their countries and admired each others' players. "You cannot stop fans from supporting a player by arresting them," he said."Sports and politics should be kept apart and such incidents go against the principles of sportsmanship."

Afridi himself landed in hot water with home fans for saying he got "more love" in India than he did in Pakistan, ahead of a crucial clash in the World Twenty20 in March.

Twitterati from across the border reacted to the news with anger and anguish. With some suggesting that both countries needed to let the game not be affected by politics.

HERE'S WHAT THEY SAID:

Relations between the two nations have plummeted since a deadly attack on an Indian army base in Kashmir in September, perpetrated by Pakistan-based militants. Cricketing ties have also been on hold since Pakistan made a short tour in 2012, though the two teams do play against each other in tournaments involving other countries.

With input from agencies 

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