A video of Team India cricketers Mohammed Siraj and Umran Malik’s refusal to apply tilak on their forehead in a hotel reception in Nagpur ahead of the four-match Test series against Australia has stirred up a storm with right-wing Twitter targetting the two Muslim fast bowlers for their choice.
The video has gone viral with around 842.1K views. It shows the hotel staff welcoming the players along with head coach and former cricketer Rahul Dravid by applying tilak on their foreheads. When Siraj’s turn came, he politely refused. So did Umran Malik.
Applying tilak is traditionally a Hindu and Jain custom for welcoming guests.
The video, posted by a Anveshka Das, has evoked strong reactions from right-wing elements. Interestingly Das has used many trending hashtags, as far as #RipLegend, in order to gain momentum for the video in the algorithm.
Although there are two other people who also refused the tilak, right-wing and Hindutva elements focussed entirely on the Muslim cricketers. However many have come in Siraj and Malik’s defense pointing out that their action does not describe communally.
Right-wing news channel Sudarshan TV’s editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke tweeted the video with the hashtag ‘jago’ which means wake up.
“Mohammad Siraj and Umran Malik did not get tika applied on their foreheads at the reception. He is a player of the Indian team, not Pakistan. Even after becoming an international cricketer, he is staunch towards his religion. #Jago,” he tweeted.
Arun Yadav, a hard-line Hindutva worker and an ardent fan of Chavhanke tweeted the video by saying, “Some puncture mark celebrities don’t get vaccinated because they are fanatic about their religion even after reaching that level. But we don’t miss wearing cap and offering sheet.”
Yogi Devnath (@YogiDevnath2), another Hindutva worker tweeted the same. Another Hindutva member called darksoul (@iam_darksoul) tagged Virat Kohli and BCCI called out the Muslim cricketers as deceitful.
“This is a tight slap on @imVkohli @Jaspritbumrah93 @BCCI @ImRo45 who preach Hindus on Hindu festivals. Both of these @mdsirajofficial & @umran_malik_01 are deceitful, for them their religion is superior than nation. siraj#MohammedSiraj#UmranMalik#shami siraj umran सिराज.”
Another Twitter user named Arun Pudur (@arunpudur) has tagged Seetu Mahajan Kohli saying, “According to Ms@kohliseetu, Sanatan Tilak is ‘Silly Culture’, but, Islamic Bisht is a ‘Honor’ as being ‘Knighted’.”
Mahajan tweeted, “Hotels need to stop this silly tradition. European hotels do not sprinkle holy water on you when you enter and nor do middle eastern hotel make you wear a hijab. We treat religion and personal space so casually in India. We are not entering a Mandir!!!”
However many pointed out the Hindutva’s hypocrisy. Alt News co-founder and fact checker Mohammed Zubair said that there were other also who refused the tilak – Vikram Rathour and Hari Prasad Mohan – batting coach and video analyst respectively, but no one is talking about them.
“Vikram Rathour & Hari Prasad Mohan didn’t apply tilak too. But @SureshChavhanke & other Right wing accounts want you to focus Muslim players Umran Malik & Mohammed Siraj,” Zubair tweeted.
Subhayan Chakraborty, a sports journalist also replied, “Vikram Rathour, Dayanand Garani among many others also did. Bohot shauk hai likes, RTs khane ka apko.”
Another Twitter user tweeted, “Why should they, if I may ask? The Hindus and Jains use tilaks as part of their cultural tradition. The individuals you named belong to a different faith altogether. Don’t try to build a mountain out of a molehill and incite hatred.”
Another Twitter user posted a meme of the Indian Prime Minister applying tilak tweeting, “#MohammedSiraj and #UmranMalik should have taken tips on how to avoid a Tika”
Many Hindus have condemned this and termed it as a “useless piece of information.
The reactions are a grim reminder of India’s divided status, thanks to religious politics playing round the clock.