Cricket

Published on March 10th, 2018 | by Anindya Dutta

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Mohammad Shami deserves better than hanging by a Social Media Trial

🕓 Reading time:4 minutes
With increasing disbelief, one has been watching the media circus unfold and social media trial gain rapid momentum over the past couple of days on the Mohammad Shami case.

He was first hanged, drawn and quartered (fortunately figuratively thus far) on the basis of allegations made by his wife, Hasin Jahan (a former model and KKR cheerleader)originally on Facebook accompanied by some screenshots of messages purportedly from his phone.

The messages showed conversations between two individuals, some flirtatious, some sexual, some completely random. They were supposed to be between Mohammad Shami and a bunch of women, one of them apparently a Pakistani ‘lady of the night’ who paid him money.

In a bizarre twist, seemingly almost as an afterthought, his wife, then hinted that it might be a payment from the Pakistani lady to Shami so he can throw matches. After all, she suggested, if he could cheat on her, then what prevented him from cheating his country?

This is interesting at several levels.

The flow of money seems the wrong way round if she is indeed a ‘lady of the night’. One assumes if she is what Mrs. Shami alleges she is (and indeed she ever existed which is yet to be proved), then her charms should have done the job. The extra cash in these days of cricketing plenty should not have been needed as an inducement.

Now for the moment let, us accept Mrs. Shami’s allegation that Shami cheated on her. If every man who cheated on his wife, was also a potential traitor to his country, there would be no state secrets left in any country, leave alone any chance of there being integrity in sports. That is the sad reality of humankind.

It is perhaps wise not to throw about fixing allegations so loosely, knowing there is a section of people worldwide who take any social media post as gospel and any allegation as proof.

She then went and personally met the Commissioner of Police in Kolkata and filed a complaint against Shami. This was no ordinary complaint. It went far beyond her original social media allegations.

A case was registered on Friday under non-bailable sections 307 (attempt to murder), 498-A (subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 376 (punishment for rape) against Shami along with four others who have been booked under bailable sections 323 (causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

Her allegations now extended to attempt to murder, assault and torture against Shami and his family, and a rape allegation against Shami’s elder brother.

Most of the sections she has chosen to file a complaint on are non-bailable offences. Curiously, they have little to do with her original posts on social media.

The Impact of the Allegations

The immediate impact of the barrage of allegations through various forums was financial and professional.

As the original social media post came out, the final list of BCCI player contracts were about to be announced. Then the police complaint came.

The BCCI went into a huddle and Shami’s name was conspicuous in its absence when the contracts were then announced. Vinod Rai confesses they were stuck between a rock and a hard place on the issue and keeping the contract in abeyance was the only choice they had.

One cannot fault the BCCI, for what they did is prudent. But now the Delhi Daredevils are keeping a keen eye on the situation and looking at what their options are. They picked up Shami for the 2018 IPL at 3 Crores. Professionally and financially, the squeeze has started.

The latest is a call from certain sections of the press and social media to drop Shami from the Indian team until he proves his innocence. Parallels are being drawn to the Ben Stokes case where he was filmed battering someone virtually senseless outside a bar while under the influence of alcohol. The ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) suspended him until he was cleared of the most damaging charge by the police.

This is where it starts to get a bit over the top. The issues are varied.

First, no evidence so far has been provided where there is a film of violence as in Root’s case. So a full investigation is necessary as a domestic violence case while extremely troubling is indeed harder to prove quickly. Hence, in this case, there is allegation but no immediate proof of violence so preventing Shami from earning his living is a bit harsh.

Second, because it is India and not England, the police and legal process is a bit slower. Hence any investigation and due process through the court system could take years until he is cleared. As long as he is not arrested and put behind bars, there is little logic for demanding he not be able to earn a living.

Third, it is an extremely serious charge to allege match-fixing after getting paid by a Pakistani national in Dubai. The link seems superfluous and almost a last minute thought to sensationalise the other allegations. If anything this takes away from the seriousness of the rest of the allegations against Shami.

Enough mud is being thrown around and serious allegations have been made. Journalists and fans alike need to give the investigators and courts to do their job, which will take the time that it normally needs.

Until then, we don’t have the right to take away someone’s livelihood especially when the earning years of a sportsperson are limited. Nor should we judge a person guilty on the basis of allegations that are yet to be proved, particularly in cases where the events took place in private.

It is time we realise that the existence of a public persona is not reason enough nor does it give us the liberty to hang, draw and quarter someone by social media trial.

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About the Author

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Anindya Dutta is the bestselling author of the book 'Spell-binding Spells" on magnificent bowling spells, and a passionate cricket observer and columnist on a number of websites and journals around the world. His obsession is cricket history and he has also authored the book 'A Gentleman's Game-Reflections on Cricket History'. He tweets @Cric_Writer



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