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Sri Lanka’s cricket icons condemn communal violence. Can Indian cricketers be as outspoken?

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Former Sri Lankan cricketers Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, and Sanath Jayasuriya have condemned communal violence in Sri Lanka publicly.

New Delhi: Sri Lanka declared a nationwide ten-day emergency Tuesday after communal clashes between the majority Buddhist Sinhala and Muslim communities left two people dead and over 100 homes and shops damaged in the town of Kandy. But in a show of solidarity cricketing legends from the island nation took to Twitter Wednesday urging for peace.

Mahela Jaywardene, Kumar Sangakkara, and Sanath Jayasuriya condemned these attacks and called for peace and an end to the violence.

“I grew up in a civil war which lasted 25 years and don’t want the next generation to go through that,” Jaywardene tweeted.

Sangakkara urged the Sri Lankans to ‘stand together’ and ‘stand strong’.

Jayasuriya tweeted that he was disgusted by the acts of violence and demanded the culprits be brought to justice.

Sri Lanka limited overs captain Angelo Mathews also condemned the communal violence in a long post saying that their country and society has learnt nothing from the past. He warned Sri Lankans not to start another ethnic crisis.

History of communal violence

Sri Lanka has a history of ethnic clashes. The first widespread riots took place in 1915 between the Sinhala community and the Muslims. Official figures say 116 people were killed, 63 of whom died due to action taken by military and police forces.

The events of 1915 ultimately led to greater ethnic tensions, which only grew after the country gained independence. In June 2014, the property of members of the Muslim community were targeted by Sinhala Buddhists in Kalutara district in southwestern Sri Lanka. The trigger for this wave of violence was an alleged assault on Buddhist monk Ayagama Samitha and his chauffeur by members of the Muslim community.

Indian stars leave a lot to be desired

While the situation may not be as grim in India, the response of our cricketing icons to most incidents leaves a lot to be desired. India’s professional cricketers rarely take a stand on issues and rarely say if it is the fear of political backlash or public wrath that deters them. While the Indian cricket board does not explicitly prohibit them from speaking up, most of them rarely choose to wade into debates on contentious issues.

In fact, former India opening batsman Virender Sehwag, recently ended up contributing to vitiating the atmosphere further in a case. His controversial tweet named only the Muslim members of a group that lynched Madhu, a tribal man in Kerala last month. The outrage forced Sehwag to post a follow-up tweet and apologise. He later deleted both tweets.

Many have pointed out that Jayawerdene, Jayasuriya, and Sangakkara all belong to the majority Sinhala community but they still took a public stand against aggression of their own community.

But will it change anything about how Indian cricketers respond to events?

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  1. When communal violence takes places if our Prime Minister condemns strongly I am sure all the stars will do it. Its not about the community its about the unity. Its sad when the opposition parties in the time of UPA regime use to name Manmohan ji as Moun Mohan Singh now doing the same act. Moun Modi never behaves as secular. Atmosphere created in the country everyone is scared to go against the majority community. You will be bullied in media for nothing.

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