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Cops Investigating, Don’t Want to Comment: Olympian Vandana Katariya on Casteist Slurs

Soon after the Indian team lost to Argentina in the semifinal on Wednesday, two men danced and burst firecrackers outside Katariya's house in the Roshnabad area of Haridwar in a gesture of mockery.

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India’s Vandana Katariya with teammates after scoring a goal against Britain during their women’s field hockey bronze medal match, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, on Aug. 6, 2021. (PTI Photo/Gurinder Osan)

Tokyo: Indian women’s hockey team forward Vandana Katariya steered clear of commenting on the alleged casteist slurs hurled at her family after the side lost to Argentina in the Olympic semifinals, saying that the police is probing the incident.”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 is investigating this,” Katariya said after the team’s fourth-place finish in the Games in Tokyo following a 3-4 loss to Great Britain in the bronze play-off.

Soon after the Indian team lost to Argentina in the semifinal on Wednesday, two men danced and burst firecrackers outside Katariya’s house in the Roshnabad area of Haridwar in a gesture of mockery, an official at SIDCUL police station said.

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Members of Katariya’s family came out hearing the noise, and the two men allegedly passed casteist remarks against them, saying the team had lost because it had too many Dalit players in it, the official said.

Vandana Katariya’s brother Pankaj on Thursday said his family raised a formal complain with the police. “We do not know who these people are, I just want to request there should be no politics played on caste discrimination,” Vandana’s brother Pankaj was quoted by ANI. “Once our women’s team lost the match, some people started celebrating, there is an investigation going on. We have complained about the matter as there have been casteist slurs hurled. All these people stay around our area,” he added.

Police arrested one person after a complaint was lodged by Katariya’s brother owing to a heated argument between members of his family and the two men involved in the incident.

The arrested man, identified as Vijay Pal, has been booked under section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) of the Indian Penal Code and the SC-ST Act, the official said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday praised Vandana Katariya and Salima Tete for their performances. Katariya, whose family was subjected to allegedly casteist slurs after the semifinal match, scored four goals in the entire competition.

The Indian women hockey team broke down yesterday during their telephonic conversation with PM Modi. “Vandana and everyone played well. And everyone though Salima was brilliant.” After a brief silence Modi urged the players to stop crying. “Please everyone, stop crying the entire country is taking pride in you. After so many years hockey, India’s identity, has been reborn. This is all because of your efforts,” Modi said.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI)