The 34-year-old, who is on his fourth Test tour to Australia, made it clear that the crowd in Sydney has been a repeat offender and that such abuse reflected the upbringing of the Australian fans concerned.
“This is my fourth tour to Australia. We have had a few similar experiences in Sydney on previous tours. One or two times in the past, players have also reacted and gotten into trouble for it, but it has not been the fault of the players. It has been because of the crowd,” Ashwin said at the press conference on Sunday.
“They have been nasty and hurled abuses at us, but they have gone one step further by hurling racial abuses this time. They need to be dealt with an iron fist. It is definitely not acceptable in this day and age. We have evolved as a society, but this reflects the upbringing of those individuals.”
Ashwin was perhaps alluding to the 2012 Sydney Test, when Virat Kohli was fined by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for showing the middle finger to some unruly fans at the boundary line.
The incident on Sunday happened in the second session when Siraj complained to the on-field umpires about racist abuse from the crowd. The on-field action was subsequently stopped for a few minutes and the troublemakers evicted from the ground.
The Indian players had been at the receiving end on Saturday too, with Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj bringing the matter to light after play. Subsequently, the Indian team had lodged an official complaint.
“The umpires mentioned that we should bring it to their notice as it happens on the field so that they are able to take immediate action,” Ashwin said.
Reflecting on his experiences in Australia over the past few tours, Ashwin said: “When I toured back in 2011-12, I had no idea how small you can be made to feel in front of so many people. People laugh at you when you are getting abused. When you stood at the boundary line, you wanted to run in 10 yards and evade yourself from all this.”
Ashwin said it was surprising that no one in the stands called out the bad behaviour of these fellow spectators.
“Personally I think Adelaide and Melbourne weren’t as bad,” he said. “But this has been a continuous thing at Sydney. I have experienced it as well. They do tend to get nasty. I don’t know why and for what reason. Unless and until it is dealt with, people don’t find the reason to look at it in a different way.
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“In fact, I was quite surprised that some sections of the crowd continuously did it and there were no mates around them to pull them up for it. It definitely had to be dealt with. Disappointing is a very, very mild word, I must say.
“Even yesterday when Siraj brought it up, Ajinkya, myself and Rohit got together and went to the umpire and did report it. Nowadays the boys are better equipped and aware. Even Siraj, who is new, does know that this is the line you cannot cross. It is a wonderful thing. It must be met with the way it was met,” Ashwin said.