Twitter explodes with references to 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat pogrom as Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja scores century at Narendra Modi Stadium


Twitter on Friday exploded with references to the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom of Gujarat after Pakistan-born Muslim Aussie cricketer, Usman Khawaja, scored a brilliant century against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. While many took potshots at the BJP government headed by Narendra Modi, others felt that it was unnecessary to drag a dark chapter from the past to link it to a fine display of batting by Khawaja.

Batting first in the fourth Test, Australia were all out for 480 with Khawaja making 180. The century against India by Khawaja was his 14th in 60 Tests and his sixth since his recall in the Ashes in January 2022.

However, soon the conversation took a different turn as prominent social media users began to link the development to the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002 when thousands of Muslims were massacred. Modi was the state’s chief minister and had to face condemnation for allegedly turning a blind eye even when his state burnt.

US-based Tunku Varadarajan tweeted, “Rajdeep Sardesai put it more politely. But I’ll say it bluntly: I’m glad (make that ecstatic) that a Muslim (Australian) batsman scored a big hundred in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, in a stadium named after a man who oversaw an anti-Muslim pogrom of shocking savagery. #INDvAUS.”

Varadarajan was referring to a similar tweet posted by India Today’s consulting editor, Rajdeep Sardesai on the same topic. Sardesai later deleted that tweet and posted another tweet, where he wrote, “The life story of @Uz_Khawaja is remarkable: emigrated to Australia from Pakistan age 4, scored 100s in Pakistan last year, now in India. He is an Aussie role model for a more inclusive society through the power of sport. And yes, that has a nice ring to it in polarised times.”

But this did not stop other Twitterati to link Khawaja’s century knock to Modi and the BJP. One wrote, “Hoping Pakistani born Muslim Usman Khawaja scores a century for Australia in Gujarat, the heart of Hindutva, and while Modi is in attendance – because it might trigger the largest mass suicide of fascists since the collapse of Nazi Germany.”

Another commented, “Usman Khawaja getting a hundred in front of Narendra Modi in Gujarat is just beautiful.”

Earlier, celebrated Australian writer, Gideon Haigh, had written a hard-hitting piece criticising Modi in The Australian website. He wrote, “Usman Khawaja will be required to shake the hand of the man in charge of the city when, 21 years ago, hundreds of his co-­religionists were slaughtered and tens of thousands displaced in the pogroms following the Godhra train burning.”

Meanwhile, reacting to his knock, Khawaja tweeted, “Hard to explain the feelings and emotions that go into sport. I’d never trade my journey in a million years but the journey is what made this so special. #180 #india #dontcallitacomebackivebeenhereforyears.”

India are leading the series 2-1 and must not lose the Ahmedabad Test to avoid a draw.