When the Indian Army had carried out its first surgical strike in the year 2016, millions of Indian got to know about the Para (Special Force) or Para SF. Now, this special branch of Indian Army is once again in news due to former Indian skipper and Captain cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
When India was playing its first match of 2019 World Cup against the South Africa in England, India’s wicket-keeper MS Dhoni had worn the gloves that had the Balidaan Badge (Army insignia). Soon the entire nation, irrespective of your love for the game, began displaying their support to the 37-year-old cricketer.
MS Dhoni had worn Balidaan Badge on his gloves as a mark of respect to the Indian Army. But this wasn’t well digested by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as it asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to get it removed. Claire Furlong, ICC General Manager, Strategic Communications had said, “We have requested the BCCI to get it removed”.
This move of the ICC enraged millions of Indians as they poured in their support and urged MS Dhoni not to remove it in the upcoming matches. Meanwhile, BCCI wrote a letter to ICC and sought permission for Dhoni to wear the gloves with the Para SF badge.
Speaking on the diktat of ICC, Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai stated, “We have already written (to ICC to seek permission for MS Dhoni to wear ‘Balidaan’ insignia on his gloves), will speak more after the meeting (CoA meeting)”.
Nowhere MD Dhoni had violated the rules of ICC as he didn’t wear any symbols that promoted religion, racism or political leanings. So there was no question of removing it.
Shockingly, the ICC dismissed the request of BCCI seeking permission for MS Dhoni to wear the Balidaan Badge. In its statement, the ICC stated, “The regulations for ICC events do not permit any individuals message or logo to be displayed on any items of clothing or equipment. In addition to this, the logo also breaches the regulations in relation to what is permitted on wicket-keeper gloves”.
What is Balidaan Badge of the Para (Special Force):
One might say that the Balidaan Badge is from the Para SF but many might not be knowing about the meaning of it. A Para SF commando is mainly identified by three of these symbols. Firstly the maroon beret, then the shoulder titles and then the Balidaan badge.
Balidaan badge is allowed to wear only for the para-commandos as they earn it after undergoing rigorous training. Coming to the badge, it has a commando dagger pointed downwards, with upward-extending wings extending from the blade and a scroll superimposed on the blade with “Balidaan” inscribed in Devanagari.
Let me reiterate that getting selected into the Para SF is extremely difficult. As it is a voluntary service, soldiers or officers can volunteer for the selection from their parent unit. But only 2-5% men from the volunteered Indian Army men get inducted into the Para SF, which speaks about the volume of the toughness of the selection phase.
Even after a soldier clears the training, his selection is not finalized because to earn the Balidaan badge, he need to serve in active operations in a hostile zone for a year, which is called Balidaan Padh. If he proves his mettle and survives the Balidaan Padh, then he will be formally get inducted into the parachute regiment by giving the Balidaan Badge.
The Para SF is a special unit of the parachute regiment and it had carried out covert and extremely dangerous operations for decades. It had even carried out a strike in the Myanmar borders in the year 2015. The Parachute Regiment was established in the year 1952. Currently, Indian Army’s Parachute Regiment has nine Parachute Special Forces units, five Parachute (airborne) Battalions and two Territorial Army battalions; MS Dhoni belongs to the Territorial Army battalion.
Those who are thinking how MS Dhoni is wearing the Balidaan batch as he is a cricketer, let me remind you that MS Dhoni serves as a Lieutenant in the Territorial Army and it was conferred to him the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel in the year 2011. After getting an honorary rank, MS Dhoni didn’t keep quiet. He underwent para training and had successfully accomplished 5 para jumps after two weeks of training, which is impeccable.
Now let us expose the hypocrisy of the International Cricket Council (ICC):
When we observe carefully, the ICC has been not fair to India since decades. In the year 2016, the England’s cricketers were allowed to wear a “poppy” stitched onto the collars of their kit in a match against India.
England cricketers wore this Poppy of red flower on stitched onto their collar as a tribute to their nation’s war dead. Not just they had worn this poppy but also observed a minute’s silence before the start of the third day’s play of that particular test match against India on Armistice Day.
Alastair Cook, England’s player, had said, “It’s important for the national team to pay their respects”. he added, “We want to show our appreciation and thank all of our Armed Forces personnel for the fantastic work they do, and their families who support them”.
Did ICC take any action against England?
In 2014, England cricketer Moeen Ali had worn “Save Gaza” band on his wrist. Here, the England batsman had brought in the religious angle in the gentlemen’s game. Wasn’t this a clear violation of ICC’s so-called rules and regulations?
In Pakistan-Sri Lanka cricket match, when the players were walking towards their dressing room in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, Pakistani player Shehzad was telling Sri Lankan batsman Dilshan that “If you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, straight to heaven”. Again the Pakistani cricketer had brought in the religious angle, yet he wasn’t banned by the ICC.
But when India’s pride MS Dhoni wears the Balidaan Badge, ICC can’t digest it. Why this shameless hypocrisy?