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Indian State Under Fire for Denying Security to Pakistan Team

by AFP
Prakash Singh—AFP

Prakash Singh—AFP

State cricket board criticizes authorities for endangering World Twenty20 match.

India’s cricket board on Tuesday criticized authorities in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh after they refused to provide security for an upcoming India-Pakistan World T20 tie, citing a January attack on an Indian army base.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said Sunday that the match should be moved to another venue out of respect for the “martyrs” killed in the assault by Pakistani militants on an Indian air force base in neighboring Punjab.

He has threatened not to provide security for Pakistan’s players at the Himachal Pradesh cricket ground in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala where the clash is due to take place on March 19.

“We are not willing to provide security for the match,” a senior state government official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “It’s just one match that we are bothered about because it involves Pakistan and our decision reflects the sentiments of the people of Himachal.”

Indian cricket board secretary Anurag Thakur accused the state of playing politics and said the country regularly provided security for Pakistani sportsmen and women. “The venues of the World Cup matches were decided one year ago, the allotment of matches was decided six months ago,” said Thakur. “By claiming that you cannot provide security, you are only giving credence to Pakistani claims that there is a security threat to their team in India. It’s about the country’s image.”

Pakistan have already voiced concerns about security in India, saying there were specific threats from Hindu activists who forced the cancellation of a meeting between cricket officials from the two countries in Mumbai last October.

The South Asian rivals have not played a bilateral series for more than three years amid diplomatic tensions. Those were worsened by the January attack on the Pathankot airbase, which came days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise peacemaking visit to Pakistan in December.

The raid led to the postponement of peace talks between the rivals, with Modi urging his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to take “firm and immediate action.”

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