An Indian-Australian spectator who was among the section of the crowd who were asked to leave the stand for alleged racial abuse of Indian players at the Sydney Cricket Ground on day 4 of the third Test between India and Australia defended the accused section of the crowd, a total of six people, saying that he did not hear any racial taunts.
Prateik Kelkar, a Sydney resident, who was present at the SCG on day 4, in an interview with Sydney Morning Herald, said that he was ejected for explaining to the police that Siraj was not racially abused.
“We got kicked out as well for sticking up for them, for saying that they didn’t say anything,” Kelkar told the Herald. “[Siraj] was pissed off because he got hit for two sixes the previous over. He came to field on the boundary. He was copping it a bit and then they said: ‘Welcome to Sydney, Siraj’. Next thing we knew they were getting kicked out.”
“What I wanted was that both sides of that story be heard,” Kelkar said. “It’s not fair they are getting vilified in the media when I can tell you they have done nothing wrong.
“I am an Indian. I have been racially abused before in Australia and I can tell you that it wasn’t [racial abuse]. As you can tell from my accent, if there was something racist going on, I would have heard it and done something about it.
It was in the 87th over of Australia's second innings when the alleged incident happened and Siraj was seen talking to the on-field umpires who then made their way to the Brewongle stand after which the police intervened and escorted the section of the crowd out of the stadium.
Another spectator, Ben Grogan, a senior executive in the NSW public sector, who was sitting behind those six people, spoke on similar lines.
"In all the footage I'm the guy in the pink and white shirt, with my son, two rows back from the six guys that got ejected," he told Sydney Morning Herald.
"They were just a real poor man's Barmy Army sort of thing," Grogan said about a group of youngsters who were earlier that afternoon asked to leave the SCG. "They were singing songs like, 'We love you Jasprit, we do'. 'Jasprit, give us a wave', weaving his name into songs, stuff like that. There was no derogatory stuff but it was just constant. It wasn't a great workplace but there was nothing racist."
Meanwhile, both the teams condemned the act with the Australian team even apologising for the alleged crowd behaviour.