It was like pouring a drop of lemon in a bucket full of milk: The Indian media served up a piece of news that claimed that Bangladeshi supporters attacked Sudhir Kumar Gautam -- a man who had watched every cricket match of team India since 2003 and who has dedicated his life to Indian cricket and the batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
Sudhir’s signature is that he has a replica of the Indian map on his head, and colours himself green white and red, resembling the Indian national flag. The allegation of the attack is like a black spot on a milky white shirt.
As it happens in Bangladesh, TV stations tend to report stories without verifying whether or not it is correct.
The Indian media, irrespective of its size and reputation, did the same thing by uploading Sudhir’s videos alleging that the “frenzied” Bangladeshi supporters attacked him as he came out of the stadium after the second ODI match, and they tried to snatch away the Indian flag.
One police officer came to his rescue, and helped him get on board a baby taxi that saved him. He also confessed that he never had any problem in the last seven matches he watched at the Dhaka stadium.
He went on to say that the “rowdy” Bangladesh supporters were saying that it was an attack aimed at taking revenge for the Tigers’ defeat against India in the quarter-final match during the World Cup in Melbourne.
The Indian media, including the reputed NDTV, reported this piece of news without asking for a version from the authorities. The video is still available on Facebook and Youtube.
Many Bangladeshis were angered by the reported incident, and they turned very vocal against the attack on Sudhir.
I also condemned the attack (if it really happened).
After a careful examination and the account of a witness, who also took a photo of Sudhir being looked upon by jeering young boys, it was shown that Sudhir had not physically gotten hurt.
By that time, he had become a hero in the global media.
I suppose Sudhir’s allegation was basically a ploy to divert the focus of Bangladeshis who were celebrating Bangladesh’s first series win over the Indian team. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and others, are rife with humourous tidbits about the Indian team that quite often undermine the Tigers.
The Indian cricket commentators like NS Sidhu and Sanjay Manjrekar are some of the many names who mock Bangladesh in their TV shows or during match commentary.
Besides, the Indian advertiser’s “mawka, mawka” video clip was perceived to be aimed at undermining India’s world cup opponents, including Bangladesh.
A witness press photographer said the Bangladeshi fans were taunting Sudhir with slogans.
A die-hard supporter of the Indian team, Sudhir may have been frustrated and dejected by the celebration all over Bangladesh and in the media.
So, he may have cooked up a story to divert people’s attention away from the Tigers’ victory. By that time, all Bangladeshi supporters had come to know about Sudhir, who had been barely known to the rest of the world.
Such falsehoods may be counter-productive. The Indian media should have maintained the basic ethics of journalism through verification and balance.
Bangladesh has earned a bad name because of these allegations, thanks to false reporting.
Nevertheless, we Bangladeshis should also be more responsible in our behaviour. We should not taunt any of the Indian supporters, as they are our guests, who we Bangladeshis respect very much. Let us learn to celebrate our achievements without taunting our opponents.