Opinion: Calling Hardik Pandya ‘Chhapri’ Should Stop Right Away As It Does Not Just Hurt MI Captain But A Whole Community | Cricket News

Hardik Pandya faced the heat in his first match as the Mumbai Indians (MI) captain, a couple of days back, in IPL 2024. The Ahmedabad crowd ensured Hardik had a tough time focussing on the game as they booed him throughout the match. They had felt betrayed by former Gujarat Titans (GT) captain’s decision to leave the franchise and shift base to Mumbai. He continues to be trolled and hated on social media and gets called many things on the internet. 

Sportspersons understand the emotions of the fans and there have been cricketers’ effigies burnt and slogans raised everywhere against players in the past. But what Hardik is seeing is unprecedented. In IPL, one has never seen this level of hate for Hardik from all corners. At the toss of MI vs GT, Ahmedabad crowd booed Hardik and social media continued to pass various slurs on him.

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While no on deserves being called with any kind of slurs, one particular slur is even more pathetic, both to Hardik and a caste-based community. It is the term ‘Chhapri’. You must have seen it on social media that Hardik is called ‘Chhapri’. Not just him, anyone who dresses in a flashy clothes, has a funky hairdo, to make himself stand out from the others, is called a ‘Chhapri’. Maybe you have used the term too, at some point of time, to make fun of your friend’s dressing sense or a hairstyle. Hardik, who likes to dress up in expensive clothes, wear gold chains, costly watches et al, gets called ‘Chhapri’ too on social media on a regular basis. The skin of his colour is a big reason why Hardik receives this ‘slur’.

People use the term to look down on those who have suddenly become rich but their style is still ‘classless’. ‘Chhapris’ are those who are ‘cringe’, for so many among us. When fans hate on Hardik, they like to call him a ‘chhapri’ which is not a comment on his poor cricket but a personal attack on his past. 

But ‘Chhapri’ is not a slur. It has becomes one in recent years. Chhapris, in fact, are a caste-oppressed community in India. Caste is decided by where you are born. People born in this community were told to do only one job, which is to make temporary roofs. They make these roofs using ‘chappars’, hence called ‘Chhapris’. They still exist. Some of them may have quit doing the job imposed on them by the caste system but they still belong to the same community and face hardships, struggles and casteism on a regular basis.

It is unfair that this community, which has already seen inequality of higher degree, becomes a ‘gaali’ in today’s India. This is not just the fans, but also the cricketers who need to be more aware and sensitive about such matters. We have seen how some cricketers have used the term without any hesitation. We are doing a huge disservice to them, and taking India and our society further backwards.

You are free to hate on Hardik Pandya (if you wish to), slam him, criticise him for his poor cricket or whatever, but all that can be done with calling him a ‘Chhapri’. It is time we realised that as we aim to make a ‘New India’, it is important that everyone here is treated equally.

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