Justice Markandey Katju: Nothing wrong with Irfan Pathan’s dance with Afghanistan team

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju–

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

Afghanistan’s historic win this week over Pakistan in Chennai at the Cricket World Cup 2023 was a victory of David against Goliath.

After the match, former Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan danced on the cricket field with Afghanistan player Rashid Khan, a scene which went viral on social media. Many Pakistanis trolled Pathan for his gesture, but in my opinion the criticism was silly and puerile.

Pathan was happy that Afghanistan, a nation that has friendly ties with India, won the match. Besides, being a Pathan, he may also have had sentimental connection with Afghanistan, the land of his ancestors. Many Afghans that live in India are those whose ancestors came here for a variety of reasons. They have been living here for generations.

Indeed, India is where people from different parts of the world came and settled, and lived without fear of persecution.

As I have said earlier, India is broadly a nation of immigrants, like North America, and a large majority of today’s Indians were not its original inhabitants, but came from abroad (mainly from the north west).

For instance, the Parsis came to India about 1200 years ago because they were persecuted in Persia due to religious bigotry, and ever since they have lived in India with dignity and honor, and achieved great success in business, law, the armed forces, the arts, etc.

The Jews came to India 2000 years ago, because they were persecuted by the Romans, and for 2000 years Jews lived in India with dignity and honor. They were never persecuted in our country, and there was never any anti-semitism in India. Of course, most of our Jews have now migrated to Israel, not because we persecuted them, but because they thought they had better opportunities in Israel.

We had Armenians living in India for centuries, though now most have chosen to return to their homeland after Armenia became independent.

We have Chinatowns in Kolkata, Mumbai, etc, where many Chinese-origin live and are adept in manufacturing, trade and leather products, running shoe shops, Chinese restaurants, etc and as dentists. They sent their children to English medium schools all over the country, and in my own school, the Boys High School, Allahabad (where I studied from 1951-61) there were many Chinese students.

There was a professor of Chinese in my alma mater, the Allahabad University (where I studied from 1963-67) who told me his Chinese dialect was Hakka. Later, many Chinese migrated to the US and Canada, and I still speak to a few who were my schoolmates on WhatsApp.

When I went recently to Bhatkal in Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka, I found many Muslims there who were very fair. When I asked how this was so, they told me it was because they were descendants of Yemenis and Persians who had come there several centuries ago, and they have their own dialect Nawayathi.

Many scholars, Sufi saints, etc, came to India from the Middle East, Persia, etc, and no one was ever turned away. I see nothing wrong in Irfan Pathan dancing after Afghanistan’s victory. Pakistanis should grow up.

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