The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hanuman plays ball, Sena howls

Chandigarh, Nov. 22: His mace may have resembled a baseball bat as he rampaged about Lanka, teaching Ravan and his men the lesson of their lives on their home turf.

But this being the age of cricket, Hanuman has in his new avatar picked up a cricket bat to demolish the 10-headed Lanka king’s Demon XI.

The thrashing is handed out strictly in terms of runs and wickets, though, as an animated CD circulating in Hoshiarpur shows.

The CD, whose cover features the Bajrangbali with bat in one hand and ball in the other, shows Hanuman’s team of monkeys take on a full-strength Ravan’s XI, complete with stalwarts such as the portly Kumbhkarn.

At the end of the victory, Hanuman is warmly congratulated by Ram and Lakshman.

Yet the howls of protest come not from the Sri Lankan cricket board, predictably scornful of any claim of historical Indian supremacy in the sport.

The protests, instead, come from organisations whose connection with the game has been confined to digging up pitches. The Shiv Sena, along with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, just can’t dig the notion of a god pleading “howzat” before a white-coated higher court of appeal.

Making a connection not immediately obvious, Sena Hoshiarpur chief Ranjeet Rana suggested the CD is a Church ploy to convert Hindus.

“Christian missionaries are behind the sinister move to portray our gods in poor light. The CD is being circulated by a company called BS-Series. We will avenge the insult,” said Rana darkly.

“The CD has hurt Hindu sentiments and cannot be tolerated,” agreed the Parishad’s Punjab unit secretary Vijai Singh. “It’s a tool used by missionaries to convert Dalits.”

Police haven’t taken the complaint lightly. “We have registered a case under Section 295 A which deals with hurting religious sentiments,” Hoshiarpur police chief R.N. Dhoke said over his mobile. “The CD doesn’t seem to have been created in Punjab as it is in a non-Punjabi dialect.”

But Rana said he had seen an English version. “The CD has been made in various languages and dialects. The one I saw was in English.”

“We have traced the CD’s origin to one Narang of Model Town in Rohtak,” Singh said after a demonstration in Chandigarh today. “We are not going to the police with our discovery. We will surround his house and have him thrashed.”

He didn’t say if a mace or cricket bat would be used.

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