New Delhi. A Member of Parliament has proposed a private bill where criticism of Sachin Tendulkar, widely believed to be the God of Cricket in India, would amount to “blasphemy”. Since India does not have blasphemy laws, unlike in neighboring Pakistan, Sunil Khetri, a Lok Sabha MP, has argued that criticism of Tendulkar should be covered under “relevant” IPC Sections such as 295a (deliberate and malicious acts, intending to outrage religious feelings) and 153a (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot).
“Cricket is the most widely followed religion in India, yet we have no laws to protect the religious sentiments and beliefs of its followers,” Sunil Khetri introduced the premise of his proposed bill, “I think the first step is to officially recognize Sachin as the God of Cricket, if we can’t give him Bharat Ratna yet, and safeguard the feelings of the followers.”
Khetri informed that he had been planning this bill since November 2009 when India failed to win a match against Australia despite Sachin scoring 175 runs.
“People were criticizing Sachin even then, and it happened last night too when India lost to South Africa despite Sachin scoring a century. Do people have balls to badmouth other gods? If you say a word against other gods, a lawsuit would be slapped on your ass; the same needs to be done to asses who abuse Tendulkar,” an angry Khetri said.
The Sachinite (a follower of Tendulkar) MP further informed that initially he had thought of pushing for strict blasphemy laws in India, but changed his mind after a similar law led to assassinations of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistan.
While fellow Sachinites have welcomed the proposed bill by Khetri, several critics have vowed to oppose the “draconian bill”, which they claim is a “brutal attack” on the freedom of speech, while some experts have pointed out that the thought behind the bill itself was flawed.
“Venerating Sachin as a God is divisive and simply incorrect,” says Professor David McDonald, an expert in comparative religion, “A far more accurate description would be similar to the demi-gods one finds in Greek mythology, who walk amongst and interact with mortal men, maybe Perseus or Heracles. I’m sure Mr. Tendulkar would look magnificent in white marble.”
“Crap! Sachin is God. Period,” Rajeev, a die-hard Sachinite rejected the arguments, “Criticism of Sachin is done with the sole objective of hurting sentiments and causing public disorder; it’s high time those laws were applied. I’m totally with Mr. Khatri on this.”
Rajeev went on to caution that if the feelings of Sachinites were continued to be mocked and disrespected by the “heretics”, it might lead to “terrorism”, as happens with other religions.
“He is right,” Rajeev’s roommate Shyam, with a fractured middle finger after last night’s debate on Sachin’s century, agreed.
“I have been trying to call Digvijay Singh to inform him that I feel a threat to my life from cricket terrorists,” he added.
(with inputs from Simon)