When Vijay Goel hit Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt for a six

Vijay Goel, the union sports minister, hasn’t had a smooth ride ever since he assumed office. After taking charge just weeks before the Olympics, Goel got panned for clicking selfies at various sporting events and for alleged rude behaviour. Recently, he got in a public spat with Dangal star Zaira Wasim on Twitter even though he meant to support her.

Yesterday another controversy was created when the official PIB (Press Information Bureau) account tweeted this:

The picture showed Vijay Goel at the inauguration of the 2nd T20 World Cup for the visually impaired players. He was seen blindfolded, holding a bat and maybe waiting for a ball to arrive.

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Immediately, it was declared insensitive by celebrity journalists Barkha Dutt and Shekhar Gupta:

Apart from these two, others like journalist Sunil Jain and Robert Vadra’s brother-in-law Tehseen Poonawala too joined in bashing Goel, interpreting his gesture as insensitive towards the visually impaired players.

However, the minister soon opened their eyes by showing them another pic:

So the fact of the matter was, the idea of playing blindfolded was that of Blind Cricket’s officials who thought such an event would create awareness and encourage the players. Goel was just following a promotional idea that involved players of the Indian team as well.

He further lamented that journalists like Barkha and Shekhar were targeting him without verifying facts (well, entirely his fault if he thought journalism in India meant verification of facts):

While Barkha acknowledged Goel’s response, Shekhar Gupta was not willing to admit his mistake (again, Goel’s fault if he thought that journalism in India meant accepting one’s mistakes):

To be fair to the organisers and Vijay Goel, playing blindfolded looks like the accepted norm for expressing solidarity with blind sportsmen. Just last September blindfolded members of Barcelona FC, which included Messi, Busquets and Rakitic, took on the Spanish Blind National Football team ahead of the Paralympic games in Rio.


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