In yet another act of hatred towards Pakistan in India, dozens of activists from a Hindu extremist group stormed the offices of the Indian cricket board in Mumbai on Monday and cancelled talks between cricketing bosses of the two countries.
Nearly three dozen supporters of the far-right Shiv Sena party waltzed unchallenged into the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) offices in Wankhede Stadium and shouted anti-Pakistan slogans just before BCCI President Shashank Manohar and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan were due to discuss agreed upon bilateral cricketing fixtures.
Shiv Sena, which is a junior partner of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra state, has in recent weeks threatened and cancelled Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s concert. Last week, its members attacked the organiser of an event for former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri.
“Ten people have been arrested and bailed,” Mumbai Police DC Dhananjay Kulkarni told AFP, though he admitted that as many as 35 activists were involved in Monday’s incident.
Khan had arrived in Mumbai on Sunday to talk about an India-Pakistan series, which is in doubt due to strained political relations.
Pakistan cricket legend Zaheer Abbas, who is also president of the sport’s world governing body the International Cricket Council (ICC), felt that Monday’s protests had put into doubt the World Twenty20 opener scheduled to be played between the two countries in India in March next year.
“The important thing is that World T20 opener is between Pakistan and India. What will happen when these two countries play? The tension would be such that it would no longer be a cricket match.”
The former batsman warned that if current animosity in India against a bilateral series with Pakistan prevailed, it will create difficulties for the World Twenty20 when Pakistani players could refuse to tour India.
Pakistan not giving up
PCB board member Najam Sethi remains optimistic about a bilateral series with India in December, though meetings stand cancelled. “There is no meeting scheduled between the PCB and the BCCI after Monday’s meeting in Mumbai was cancelled,” Sethi told The Express Tribune as he boarded a flight out of India. “BCCI will inform the PCB in due course about when the next meeting will take place.” Asked whether the protests and rising hatred against Pakistanis in India would jeopardise participation in World T20 next year, Sethi stated that there was no threat to their participation in the mega event and was optimistic about a bilateral series. “Nonetheless, I believe the series will go ahead in December.”
ICC withdraws Aleem Dar
Following threats from Shiv Sena, the ICC on Monday withdrew Pakistan umpire Aleem Dar from officiating in the remaining matches of the on-going India versus South Africa series.
Dar, a member of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, had officiated in the first three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and was scheduled to stand in the fourth and fifth ODIs in Chennai and Mumbai on October 22 and 25, respectively.
“Under the present circumstances, it will be unreasonable to expect from Dar that he will be able to perform his duties to the best of his abilities,” an ICC spokesperson said.
Ban Shiv Sena: AAP
New Delhi’s popular Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has demanded a ban on Shiv Sena following the latter’s recent acts of hostility, reported The Indian Express.
“Civil society must come together and demand a ban on Shiv Sena, as they neither understand, nor participate in upholding our Constitution or our democracy. Instead they are always ready to precipitate tensions with neighbouring countries,” AAP spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon said in a statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.