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JNU uproar! 5 Indian sportsmen who called for political, societal change

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:45 IST

Sport mirrors society and just like any other aspect of culture, it can act as a mechanism for both political and societal change. It does not exist in a vacuum and just functioning in isolation from what is happening around the world is definitely not how it's supposed to be.

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Sportspersons are influential public figures who are likely to make an impression on the country's youth. Their stand on issues other than sports can undoubtedly influence the minds of their fans.

Also read: Why BCCI is opposing Lodha committee's recommendations

So, when they sit quietly or post holiday selfies during a nationwide uproar, they unknowingly tell the youth that it is probably okay not to have an opinion. That it is okay to continue living within your own walls, and not engage.

However, a few Indian sportsmen seem to have decided to make an exception. While India has found itself embroiled in the continuing uproar on issues of freedom of expression, these Indian sports personalities have come out of their comfort zone to voice their opinion.

From MS Dhoni to Vijender Singh, here's a look at how Indian sportsmen reacted to the ongoing JNU row:

Dhoni calls for respect to armed forces

MS Dhoni_PTI

Photo: PTI

Indian captain MS Dhoni, who also holds the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Territorial Army, took to Twitter on 21 February and called for respect to the armed forces, saying that the nation is in a position to debate because of the men in uniform.

"Spl forces and commando unit's r normal ppl like u and me who r highly motivated and trained to put the interest of the nation before self. As v have this debate on freedom of speech our forces r making sure v stay in position to keep debating," Dhoni tweeted.

Yogeshwar's patriotic poem

Yogeshwar Dutt_PTI

Photo: PTI

Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt wrote a patriotic poem to criticise the alleged anti-national activities on the JNU campus. The poem was uploaded on Dutt's official Facebook page on 13 February and received tens of thousands of likes and hundreds of comments.

In his poem, the London Olympics bronze medallist compared 'anti-national elements' to Mahmud of Ghazni and even questioned their Right to Expression when they choose to demean the country. Dutt also accused the students and their supporters of dishonouring the sacrifice of Indian soldiers, including Lance Naik Hanamanthappa - one of the 10 soldiers who died in an avalanche in Siachen earlier this month.

Dhawan bats for tricolour in varsities

<a href=Shikhar Dhawan_Hannah Peters/Getty Images">

Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan endorsed the NDA government's directive to all 46 central universities to fly the tricolour atop a 2017-feet tall flag mast. "My take is simple. It (flag) should be unfurled at the Universities. It (flag) is the pride of the nation. The more the merrier I would say," he said at a promotional event on 19 February.

When asked about the situation at JNU, the Delhi southpaw said: "Though you have touched upon a sensitive topic, one should never say anything ill about the country you live in."

Vijender packs a punch

Vijender Singh_PTI

Photo: PTI

India's boxing sensation Vijender Singh, who is currently on a dream run in his career, weighed in on the issue with his tweet on 17 February.

"In a country where changes in a farm's boundary, even by an inch, can lead to 10 murders, some people are mistaken that India will give up Kashmir?" Singh tweeted.

Gautam gets 'gambhir'

Gautam Gambhir_AFP

Photo: AFP

Out of favour Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir, too, joined in the debate and urged politicians not to compromise with the country's harmony to fulfill political gains.

"Shocking videos frm JNU & Jadhavpur Uni. Grow up politicians. Dnt politicise this, get united for Mother India. Don't compromise ur country's interest to get back into power," he tweeted on 16 February.

He also questioned the issue of Jat reservation demand and said that a soldier never thinks or demands quotas before sacrificing his life for the country.

"Wht is a point of sacrificing ur life for the country when there is demand for quota everywhere. A soldier never thinks abt quota or demand for quota b4 sacrificing his life.#respect soldiers," Gambhir tweeted on 21 February.

First published: 22 February 2016, 7:36 IST
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.