Not many in Pakistan would have heard about their cricket team for the blind. Fewer would have known about Zeeshan Abbasi, the captain. They are playing in the T20 World Cup for the Blind.
However, one accident and it becomes an issue of intrigue. The Hindu reports that today morning after drinking from a water bottle at breakfast, Zeeshan felt sore in the throat and took ill. Some say it was cleaning acid, others say it was liquid soap, still others say it was phenyl. An endoscopy was performed; he has been discharged.
But the backroom chatter has just started. It is, as happens always, about the tense relations between India and Pakistan. A case of gross negligence by the hotel staff has turned into a whoddunit. (Does anyone remember Bol Woolmer's death in Jamaica?)
I don't wish to sound insensitive, but India is more interested in its international series against England, where it is being trashed.
To even imagine that the phenyl was part of some vendetta is weird. It raises a few questions about whether there can really be normal relations between the two not only despite, but because of, peace initiatives. 'Aman ki Asha' is essentially a Mom & Pop store version of amity. It has not reached the general public.
What if an Indian player drank that 'water'? Would it not be seen as the responsibility of the hotel, and not the organisation hosting the event? Even so, here's the official statement:
Mr G K Mahantesh General Secretary of the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) and founder of the Samarthanam Turst for the Disabled, who are organizing the 10-day tournament, termed the incident as ‘shocking and embarrassing’. He said “All players are important to us. The Movenpick Hotel have promised an internal inquiry and we await the results.” Mr Mahantesh added the ‘strictest of actions’ will be taken against those responsible for the incident.
In today's paper, I saw a picture of the Jaipur Foot meant for Pakistan. Our neighbours come here for medical treatment. They come for literature festivals. They come to perform. They come for conferences. These do not need the crutch of peace. These are services and ideas we avail of and share with everyone. The same applies to Indians.
A sports event, especially involving the differently-abled, requires care. However, accidents occur even with those with regular faculties. Haven't we heard complaints of Delhi belly, food poisoning, sun stroke?
A probe has been ordered. It will reach the authorities who don't care about such people otherwise. A team fighting against the odds of not being mainstream will now be politicised by opportunists. Zeeshan Abbasi will have to uphold nationalism for the seeing blind.
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Image: The Hindu