Former Cricketer Harbhajan Singh Slams Pakistani Cricketer Kamran's 'Barah Baj Gaye' Joke, Know Why This Joke Offends The Sikh Community

In the video, Akmal can be heard passing a controversial remark about Arshdeep’s religion. He stated, “Kuch bhi ho sakta hai… 12 baj gaye hai (Anything can happen. It is already 12).”

Former Indian Cricketer Harbhajan Singh, recently lashed out at the former Pakistani cricketer, Kamran Akmal for a racist joke that the latter made on the Team India Star Arshdeep Singh in a video that has been doing the rounds lately. As India took on Pakistan in an intense T20 World Cup 2024 match that took place in New York, a video, simultaneously surfaced where Akmal who was a part of a panel on ARY News can be heard making a racist joke targeted at the Sikh Community. In the video, Akmal can be heard passing a controversial remark about Arshdeep’s religion. He stated, “Kuch bhi ho sakta hai… 12 baj gaye hai (Anything can happen. It is already 12).”

As the video grabbed Harbhajan Singh’s attention, the former Indian Cricketer was quick to respond as he condemned Akmal’s comment. He took to his social media account on X and blasted the former Pakistan wicket-keeper and batsman. He wrote in his post, “Lakh di laanat tere Kamraan Akhmal.. You should know the history of Sikhs before you open your filthy mouth. We Sikhs saved your mothers and sisters when they were abducted by invaders, the time invariably was 12 o’clock . Shame on you…Have some Gratitude.”

Akmal’s comment on Arshdeep Singh that was rooted in a historical stereotype about Sikhs also further garnered a huge backlash on the social media which later led to the Pakistan cricketer issuing an apology to Harbhajan Singh as well as the entire Sikh community over the social media platform. He took to his account on X and stated that he deeply regretted his comment. His post read,” I deeply regret my recent comments and sincerely apologize to @harbhajan_singh and the Sikh community. My words were inappropriate and disrespectful. I have the utmost respect for Sikhs all over the world and never intended to hurt anyone. I am truly sorry.”

While the controversy feeds the minds of the sports enthusiasts, it has also become increasingly imperative to understand why the “baarah baj gaye” joke is extremely offensive to the people belonging to the Sikh Community and should not be made.

The derogatory “12 o’clock” joke has its origins dating back to a historical context from the 1700s, during Nadir Shah’s invasion of India. After plundering Delhi and massacring thousands of Hindus and Muslims, Shah’s troops took many women captive while passing through Punjab. The Sikhs who were vastly outnumbered, employed guerrilla tactics to raid Shah’s camps at midnight, that is at 12 ‘o’ clock, in order to rescue as many women as they could and return them to safety. The momentous hour which was synonymous to their bravery, however, over time, was distorted into a derogatory stereotype.

The Sikh community, known for their bravery and sacrifices, has historically been pivotal in protecting countless Indian women from dishonor. The phrase “12 o’clock” and its heroic hystory became an ignorant joke, despite its origins in the valiant efforts of the Sikhs.

In contemporary times, Sikhs have often engaged in self-deprecating humor around this stereotype, displaying their characteristic resilience and sense of humor. However, the importance of recognizing and respecting their historical contributions cannot be overstated. Harbhajan’s response to Akmal’s comment serves as a reminder of the respect and gratitude owed to the Sikh community.