Shiv Sena workers storm BCCI HQ in Mumbai

Mumbai: Shiv Sena workers today stormed the Indian Cricket Board headquarters in protest against planned talks with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Shaharyar Khan here for resumption of bilateral cricketing ties.

The noisy protests by over a hundred slogan shouting members at the Board office during which BCCI President Shashank Manohar was ghearoed forced the cancellation of the much-anticipated talks today between him and Khan.

The talks on the proposed bilateral series have now been rescheduled to be held in Delhi tomorrow.

“The talks have not been called off. Mr Manohar and Mr Khan will speak to each other in evening today and tomorrow they are coming to Delhi for another round of talks,” IPL Chairman and senior Board functionary Rajiv Shukla told PTI.

The protesting Sena workers were later taken into custody by the police.

Shouting slogans against Pakistan and the PCB chairman, the Sena workers surrounded Manohar, asking him not to have any ties with the neighbouring country.

Waving black and saffron flags, the workers sought to know from Manohar if he would go ahead with his meeting with the PCB chief here.

Sena Vibhag Pramukh Pandurang Sakpal told reporters that his party is firm that there should be no cricket matches between the two countries.

Asked about Sena being a part of the Maharashtra government, Sakpal said, “The government will do its job, we will do ours.”

“What we did today is Sena’s stance,” he said.

Manohar had invited Khan for talks on the much-anticipated cricket series scheduled in December.

Khan and PCB’s executive committee head Najam Sethi are in the city for the meeting after discussing the planned series with BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur earlier on the sidelines of the ICC meeting in Dubai.

Thakur had assured him that a final decision could be taken later this month and conveyed Manohar’s invitation to visit India.

There is speculation that the two neighbours could play either a bilateral series in the UAE or agree to a possible triangular series in December also involving Bangladesh.

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Congress leader Manish Tewari condemned the incident.

Tiwari described the incident as “abominable” and said law and order had completely broken down in Maharashtra.

He said Mumbai had been reduced to “mobocracy”, citing a spate of recent incidents, including the cancellation of ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s show due to Sena’s protests.

“It is extremely unfortunate… This is extremely abominable. Law and order has completely broken down in Maharashtra. The President of India should take cognizance of this,” he said.

In the recent days, Sena activists had blackened the face of former BJP strategist Sudheendra Kulkarni, Chairman of the Observer Research Foundation, over his refusal to cancel the book launch function of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, prompting strong condemnation from political parties.

The Shiv Sena also forced the organisers to cancel the Mumbai concert of renowned Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali. (PTI)