Hours after India lost to Argentina at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, two upper-caste men used casteist slurs to abuse hockey player Vandana Katariya’s family in a village in Haridwar, The Times of India reported.
The police have detained one of them but are yet to file a first information report in the case, police officer LS Butola said.
The two men said India lost the match because there were “too many Dalits players” on the team, Katariya’s family told the newspaper.
Soon after the match, the family heard the noise of firecrackers outside their house in Roshanabad village, Katariya’s brother Shekhar said. “When we went outside, we saw two men from our village – we know them and they are upper castes – dancing in front of our house,” he added.
Shekhar alleged that the men insulted his family. “They went on saying that it’s not just hockey but every sport that should keep Dalits out,” he said in his complaint to the police. “Then, they took some of their clothes off and started dancing again. It was a caste-based attack.”
The hockey player’s brother said his family was upset about India’s loss but proud of how the team played. “The team went down fighting,” he told the newspaper.
The incident triggered outrage on social media, with people pointing out that just days ago, the 29-year-old had become the first Indian woman to score a hat-trick at the Olympics. She led India to a 4-3 victory against South Africa last month.
“A national hero insulted, since she’s Dalit,” Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav tweeted. “A dalit girl raped, killed. And we pretend caste doesn’t exist! It’s this morning news, about Vandana Kataria, who scored that magic hattrick in Qfinal [quarterfinal].
The All India Mahila Congress described the incident as “simply shameful”.
“This is so sickening,” said, Ruchira Chaturvedi, Congress’ national convenor for social media. “We, as a nation, owe Vandana Katariya and her family, an apology. Why has an FIR not already been registered?!”