Talib as Taliban: a slip grounds cricket team in Jaisalmer

The tournament in Jaisalmer’s Jesurana village, was held in the memory of a late social worker, and had 25 teams participating. The Talib Cricket Club beat Dabla XI by 5 wickets. However, the Club has been suspended from the tournament and calls are being made for action against its members.

It won the match decisively, but long after the last ball was bowled, a silly point is threatening to trip a cricket team from a village in Jaisalmer. While its score was being uploaded on an app, it was discovered that an autocorrect had changed the name of the team from Talib Cricket Club to Taliban Cricket Club. In the four days since, with pressure from right-wing outfits accusing the team of being “inspired by the Taliban ideology”, Talib Cricket Club has been suspended from the tournament, where it registered its win, and calls are being made for action against its members.

The tournament — Marhum Adhyaksh Alladin Smriti Cricket Pratiyogita — in Jaisalmer’s Jesurana village, was held in the memory of a late social worker, and had 25 teams participating. On August 22, Talib Cricket Club beat Dabla XI by 5 wickets.

Says captain Kamaal Khan, 23, “Each year, a team from our village Choudhriya takes part in the tournament. At first our team was called Choudhriya 11, but we decided to name it after Talib Khan, a relative of mine who passed away some years ago. While entering the name in the cricket scoring app, Talib got changed due to autocorrect to Taliban. We didn’t notice it. It was only discovered when the Man of the Match award was being presented.”

As videos of the scorecard spread over social media, Khan says he was summoned to the police station. “I told them everything and also tendered an apology,” says Khan, who also expressed regret over his remarks on social media.

The district police confirmed to The Indian Express that it was an inadvertent mistake. Sub-Inspector Jagdish Prasad of Sadar Jaisalmer Police Station said, “People are protesting against it but the entire controversy took place due to a typing mistake. The tournament has players and organisers of all communities.”

Sher Mohammed, one of the organisers of the Jesurana tournament, said, “This was the first time we had introduced an online scoring system through the app. While they were entering the name in the app, it got changed to Taliban. After the controversy we banned the Talib club from the tournament. We also tendered a public apology.”

In a memorandum to the Jaisalmer District Collector, several organisations, including the Bajrang Dal, have, however, demanded “strict action” by police against the members of the club as well as the organisers of the tournament.

Lalu Singh Sodha, Vibhag Sanyojak, Bajrang Dal, Jaisalmer, said: “Jaisalmer is close to the international border and there have been cases of drug smuggling and anti-national activities along with spying on behalf of Pakistan. The Taliban are terrorists at the global level. Despite that, registering a club in their name shows that this action was inspired by the terrorist group. Naming a club after the Taliban shows that they support the Talibani ideology too.”

Demanding that police act against the organisers and the team, Sodha said, “If it happened by mistake, why did the organisers have to apologise? We will hold protests if action is not taken.”

Union Minister of State for Agriculture and BJP MP from Barmer-Jaisalmer Kailash Choudhary has also waded into the controversy, saying there is no place for Taliban supporters in the country. “It is unfortunate there are such people who want to break Bharat. They don’t have much time left. They are supported by the Taliban,” Choudhary told reporters.

DySP, Jaisalmer, Shyam Sunder Singh said there was no question of filing an FIR. “Police initiated an inquiry immediately and we found nothing in it. There was no wrong intention behind the incident and people involved in it are fine, have no criminal record. It is a non-issue, which is being hyped. The club has also been suspended,” he said.

However, Khan fears the issue might not be over. “Forget Afghanistan, so far I have seen only Jaipur and Ajmer. There were Hindu members in our team too. I work on our farm and herd cattle. How can I have anything to do with the Taliban? I am shocked and scared since the controversy.”

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