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Desi Twitter Supports Dalit Hockey Player Subjected to Casteist Slurs After India’s Loss in Olympics Semi-finals

Desi Twitter Supports Dalit Hockey Player Subjected to Casteist Slurs After India’s Loss in Olympics Semi-finals

  • Vandana Katariya is the first woman Indian hockey player to hit a hat trick at the Olympics.

On Aug. 4, Vandana Katariya made history by becoming the first woman Indian hockey player to hit a hat trick in Olympics. The India forward’s heroic performance was one of the highlights of the hockey team’s dream run in Tokyo, despite losing to Argentina 2-1 in a tough fight at the semi-finals. “Vandana Kataria now has the first hat-trick by an Indian woman at the Olympics. H.I.S.T.O.R.I.C,” ESPN tweeted. 

However, following the defeat, Katariya’s family in Haridwar was subjected to casteist slurs. The accused — Sumit Chauhan and Vijay Pal — who are now in police custody, are from the same village as Katariya. The Indian Express reported that on Aug. 5, the police arrested the main accused, Vijay Pal, “following a complaint lodged against three persons — Vijay Pal, Ankur Pal and Sumit Chauhan, and other unidentified persons at Sidcul police station.”

In a widely shared tweet, Katariya wrote: “Yes, I’m a #Dalit because #Buddha’s enlightenment, #Ambedkar’s immortality, #Kanshiram’s mettle and the essence of humaneness run through me.” 

However, there is no confirmation that this came from her official account as there seem to have been a lot of fake accounts created with her name. In a series of tweets from her official handle, Katariya tweeted on Aug. 6: “My family and I are going through a very tough time. Thanks to everyone for support. It’s a humble request to some people to not increase my troubles. I am seeing people making my fake accounts and sharing tweets from them ON MY BEHALF.”

In another tweet, she wrote: “This is my original account. I am requesting you all to report the fake accounts who are pretending to be me and not entertain them. Times are really tough so kindly don’t make it tougher for me and my family.”

“We all are playing for the country, and whatever is happening, shouldn’t happen, like casteist comments,” she told The Indian Express from Tokyo. “Whatever little I have heard about it, don’t do that.”

Katariya received an outpouring of support from the Indian Twitterati. 

Activist Sankul Sonawane tweeted: “Vandana Kataria, India’s best player & the only Indian to score a hat-trick at Olympic received caste abuses because of her Dalit caste. UCs abused the Indian team for having ‘too many Dalit players.’ This is how Dalits are treated in India. Dalits will never be treated as humans.”

In another tweet, he wrote: “If you can celebrate the victory of Indian hockey, you must condemn the casteist abuse faced by Dalit Vandana Kataria too. She was our best player yet upper-castes have abused her & her family with caste slurs because of her Dalit identity. She deserves so much better than this.”

Indian activist, psephologist, and politician Yogendra Yadav tweeted: “A national hero insulted, since she’s dalit. A dalit girl raped, killed. And we pretend caste doesn’t exist!”

A user named Shree Speaks, who describes herself as an “entrepreneur and Congressi Forever,” wrote: “Y shouldn’t Leaders who love to credit P.V. Sindhu’s performance to BJP’s “Beti Bachao” NOT be willing to take credit 4 d casteist abuses showered on Dalit Hockey player, Vandana Kataria & the 31% rise in crimes on Women in the last 7 yrs, going by the same logic ???”

Ambedkar Students’ Association at the University of Hyderabad posted a tweet supporting Katariya. “ASA HCU stands in solidarity with hockey player Vandana Kataria. Revolutionary Jai Bhim to our Revolutionary player Vandana Kataria. Casteist slurs can’t stop us and we feel pity for the caste Hindus of this country.

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Similarly, Mission Ambedkar, a forum to spread Ambedkarism internationally, urged the Olympics committee to take action on what happened to Katariya. “Respected @Olympics please pass a condemnation notice to the Indian Govt as your hockey player Vandana Kataria was hurled with caste slurs by caste Hindus in India,” the group tweeted. “It’s a matter of shame. Please extend your solidarity, please.”

Mitesh Solanki, who calls himself an Amberdkarite on his Twitter handle wrote: “A very warm Jai Bhim to Vandana Kataria! She’s way beyond any borders. She’s an international icon.”

Sonawane also criticized the government for not supporting Katariya. “Modi has not criticized the caste abuse faced by Dalit Vandana Kataria,” he tweeted. “No cricketers condemning casteism. No Bollywood celebrities saying anything in support of Vandana. Majority of India is silent. Casteism is normal in India!”

Another user drew a comparison between the casteist slurs of Katariya and the backlash faced by England soccer players. “Casteist slurs on Vandana Kataria are similar to the moment when black players of England were targeted after the Euro cup final,” he wrote. “The difference will be the reaction of politicians and society in both cases.”

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