In present-day India, whenever an individual puts out his opinion on any issue on social media, the battle lines are drawn. He/she is labelled a ‘bhakt’, ‘sickular’, ‘liber***u’, ‘anti-national’, ‘fiberal’ and many other abuses.
The abuses, or trolling, results in hatred, polarization and draws away the attention from the main issue.
Ordinary civilians and celebrities face the brunt of trolling if their thoughts go ‘against the normal thought’ that is prevalent of the majority.
This is the main reason why many individuals do not share their views on social media. Our cricket stars are no different. Many top cricketers only speak out when they go with the general mood of the population.
Their tweets ensure that they maintain a clean image that does not alienate many of their fans or corporate sponsors. One individual, though, has bucked the trend on a regular basis.
With his religious background, he is aware that he will be subject to huge abuse and trolling from right-wing social media activists. He is not afraid to make a point, which is a rarity among cricketers past or present.
He is Irfan Pathan, the former India all-rounder. Irfan is best remembered as a gifted all-rounder for India at the start of the millennium. In the last couple of years, he has evolved into something greater.
Irfan Pathan and guts
If there is a prime example of Irfan Pathan and his bravado, then it is in this tweet on January 6, 2020 in which he and Aakash Chopra were the only few from a galaxy of cricket stars who called a spade a spade. “What happened in JNU yesterday is not a regular incident.
Students being attacked by armed mob inside University campus, in hostels, is as broken as it can get. This isn’t helping our country’s image,” Irfan tweeted.
This tweet invited massive abuse but Irfan did not retract his tweet.
In the deafening silence practiced by our elite stars, his tweet was like a shining light to the ‘injustice’. Irfan has also been vocal about the prevailing hatred in the country, tweeting frequently about it.
When Irfan Pathan raised an issue of bursting crackers, there were many people who abused him due to his religion but he responded in a dignified manner.
During the entire coronavirus lockdown, Irfan Pathan has done his bit from raising awareness of social distancing on social media as well as donating to charity essential items.
When the doctors were attacked during the beginning of the pandemic, Irfan was blunt when he said, “If you are going to attack the doctors who will save you? #shameful act in #Muradabad of attacking a doctor.”
Unlike other cricketers who choose silence, Irfan has been vocal on issues like Palghar and the economy despite knowing the criticism that it will invite. “Suppose,the #religion topic takes a back seat.
What would be the most interesting topic to talk about then? May be #jobs #Growth #sports #cinema #charity #life #takingindiatonumber1 #Respect #values. So hurtful to see the images of #PalgharMobLynching terrible and barbaric act. #Shame”
Even on racism, Irfan said, “Racism is not restricted to the colour of the skin. Not allowing to buy a home in a society just because u have a different faith is a part of racism too. My opinions are always as an indian and for India,I will not stop.” Following the standoff in Ladakh, Irfan penned an emotional tweet to the soldiers. At least, Irfan has been consistent on all issues unlike many other celebrities.
The charitable side
Perhaps, the greatest initiative of Irfan Pathan was during the lockdown.
In a report in the Indian Express, Baskar, a cobbler who sits at one of the gates of the MA Chidambaram stadium, was facing hardships due to the IPL getting postponed. His major source of income is during that period when the tournament is held. He is acknowledged as the official cobbler of Chepauk.
The Indian Express report stated that some of the top cricketing stars from around the world — Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Saeed Anwar, Matthew Hayden and Dwayne Bravo — have sought his help when their footwear or pad or gloves needed that extra care.
With the tournament postponed, his income ran out. In stepped Irfan Pathan and he donated Rs 25,000 to him. Such was Irfan’s magnanimity that he kept it anonymous.
Charity, humbleness plus the ability to speak his mind without fear consistently. That is what makes Irfan Pathan a rarity in today’s times.
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