On January 19, Times of India did a web photo story on cricketers who married their cousins for its entertainment section. While the story contained cricketers from Pakistan and Bangladesh who have married their cousins, for some mysterious reason, TOI included Virender Sehwag and his wife Aarti Ahlawat in the story, who are actually not cousins. Not just that, they also used the photo of the couple as the cover photo for the story, completely misrepresenting facts.
The story titled ‘5 Cricketers Who Married Their Cousins’ includes 5 such couples, but actually, only 4 of them are true as per the title. The story mentioned the marriages of Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi with his maternal uncle’s daughter Nadia, Saeed Anwar’s marriage with his cousin sister Lubna, Bangladeshi cricketer Mustafizur Rahman’s marriage with his maternal cousin Samia Parvin, and Pakistani player Barba Azam’s upcoming wedding with his cousin.
As all the cricketers who married their cousins are from Pakistan and Bangladesh, and all of them belong to ‘a particular community’, Times of India felt the need to ‘secularise’ the story. But as they couldn’t find a suitable example of a similar wedding to ‘balance’ the report, they decided that being politically correct is more important than being factually correct.
Therefore, they included Virender Sehwag, even though his wife is not his cousin, mentioning that they are ‘distantly related’. The story itself mentioned that Sehwag’s Cousin had married his wife Aarti Ahlawat’s aunt, which means there are no blood relations between them, and no way they can be called be cousins, not event distant cousins.
The story also correctly mentions Viru had married his childhood love in 2004, as he had met her first when he was seven and she was five. In fact, they had met each other in the abovementioned wedding between their respective relatives. As Sehwag’s cousin had married Aarti’s aunt, it is evident that Aarti is not Sehwga’s cousin, and even if they are ‘distantly related’, it is completely wrong to include them in a story on cricketers who married their cousins. More importantly, there is no blood relation between the two like cousins, as the two became ‘distantly related’ only after the marriage between their relatives.
But not only did Times of India include them in the story, they even went to the extent of using their photo as the cover photo, making them the main focus of the story.
It is not that Times of India ran out of cricketers marrying cousins, and were forced to include the wedding of ‘distant relatives’. They could have included the examples of other cricketers, like Mosaddek Hossain from Bangladesh who had married his cousin Sharmin Samira Usha. But then, perhaps that would not be a ‘secular’ thing to do, hence TOI dropped Hossain to include Sehwag.