Danish Kaneria : A Pakistani Hindu Icon That His Country Has Forgotten

Many cricket fans will remember Danish Kaneria, the Pakistani leg spinner, from his matches against Bharat – the gangly frame, big-spinning leg spinners and ability to bowl long spells without flagging. Fewer still will know that Danish Kaneria belongs to that rare breed – a successful, globally recognized Pakistani Hindu. And Kaneria retained his Hindu identity at a time when Pakistani cricket was heavily influenced by Islamic missionary group, Tableeghi Jamaat, which saw Kaneria’s Christian colleague Yousuf Youhana convert to Islam and become Mohammed Yousuf. Sadly, today Kaneria finds himself abandoned by the powers that be in Pakistani cricket and Government.

Kaneria was banned in 2012 by the England and Wales Cricket Board for life for spot-fixing, and despite the charges against him not being proved in a court of law, finds himself still banned from the game he loves and which was his livelihood source. Now, Kaneria is on a trip to Bharat and it is being suggested that he might be looking to permanently relocate to Bharat and settle down here.

According to this news report

“Mystery surrounds the sudden departure of Pakistan’s banned Test leg-spinner, Danish Kaneria and his family to India although his brother claims they have gone to perform some religious rituals. Kaneria, his wife, children and his mother flew out to India on Sunday night and are presently said to be in Kochi but speculations are rampant that the banned player might have gone to India to seek a livelihood and settle down there.

“My family is in India to perform some religious rituals which will take around 10-days. Our return dates are not confirmed as yet,” Kaneria told a television channel from India. His brother, Vicky Kaneria, who is in Karachi and employed with an oil campany also insisted it was a personal trip for religious purposes. But he was unwilling to speak further on the issue. Speculations have been rife over the real purpose of the visit to India as Danish Kaneria had earlier this year reportedly said he would have got more justice in India being a Hindu by faith.

Fed up with the non-cooperation of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Danish had caused an uproar in Pakistani cricket circles when he said that if he had not been a Hindu his case would have been handled differently by the cricket board. The leg-spinner was also disappointed when he got no response to a letter he wrote to Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif in early April about his case.

The leg-spinner, who appeared in 61 Tests for Pakistan, was banned in 2012 by the England and Wales Cricket Board for life for spot-fixing and has since then also lost two appeals to have the ban overturned.

Kaneria is facing another case in the Sindh High Court where the ECB has filed a petition for recovery of fines and costs of the case totaling over 200,000 pounds. At the last hearing of the case the court ordered that details of the bank accounts of the leg spinner be submitted with it.

Speculations are rife since in the last two years number of Hindu families have migrated to India. In his letters sent to the prime minister and other government dignitaries and ministers, Kaneria has pleaded his case on humanitarian grounds.

According to Kaneria’s earlier statements, his involvement is yet to be proven in a court of law, but the PCB and the ECB have maintained their life ban on him and prevented him from earning his livelihood.”

Persecution of Hindus and other minorities is rampant in Pakistan, driven by the fundamentalist Islamic ideology that views all non-Muslims (kafirs, or unbelievers) as impure, and especially Hindus (‘idol’ worshippers/polytheists) as sub-human and destined for hell-fire. While Danish Kaneria is a high-profile figure and should have more resources to fight his case compared to the majority of poor Pakistani Hindus, the dismal lack of Hindu representation in the upper echelons of Pakistani society and Constitutional bar from several high offices shows the deeply entrenched prejudice against Hindus in Pakistan.

If Danish Kaneria is indeed planning to settle in Bharat, we should welcome him with open arms. We hope that the Government of Bharat shows the same alacrity in responding to any request from Kaneria, like they accorded to ex-Pakistani singer Adnan Sami while granting him citizenship of Bharat.