The players come from all regions of the country, but they play for the Indian flag, underlined hockey team captain Rani Rampal, denouncing the "shameful act" of making casteist remarks against player Vandana Kataria's family after the team's loss in the Olympics semifinals.
Forward Vandana Katariya's brother, Chandra Shekhar, filed a police complaint that men danced and burst firecrackers outside their home in the Roshnabad area of Haridwar in a gesture of mockery soon after the hockey team lost to Argentina. The accused also said the Indian team lost the game due to players from a particular caste, he said in his complaint.
"Whatever happened with Vandana's family was a shameful act. I just want to tell people to rise above casteism. Our religions are different, we come from different parts of the country but when we play, we play for the Indian flag," team captain Rani Rampal said today.
Ms Rampal, 26, whose own father pulled a cart to feed his family, added: "This should never happen to any athlete, or a normal person."
She said the team had felt "so much love from people" despite not winning a first medal, but added that lessons had to be learned to end such abuse "if we want make our country a sporting nation".
A third person in the case was arrested this morning, while two brothers, in their early 20s, were arrested on Thursday. The arrested men have been charged under section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST Act, said an official.
"I won't like to comment on this matter. I have heard a little bit about it. I have spoken to my family and they said all is well with them. The police are investigating this," Ms Katariya said after the team's 3-4 loss to Great Britain in the bronze play-off.
Commenting on the issue, filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan said no matter the achievements, the "burden of caste will always rear its ugly head".
No matter how much we achieve in life, how many of our generations prosper, how rich & powerful we become, the burden of Caste will always rear its ugly head.— Neeraj Ghaywan (@ghaywan) August 7, 2021
It is the rock we carry up the Sisyphusian mountain of dignity.
It is the one #VandanaKatariya carries.
"No matter how much we achieve in life, how many of our generations prosper, how rich & powerful we become, the burden of Caste will always rear its ugly head. It is the rock we carry up the Sisyphusian mountain of dignity. It is the one #VandanaKatariya carries," the director of Masaan tweeted.