Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Congress on Sunday asked the BCCI to either cancel the proposed India-Pakistan T20 World Cup match slated for March 19 at Dharamsala or shift the venue.
The executive of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee also criticised the secretary of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and BJP MPAnurag Thakur for the decision to hold the match in Dharamsala.
“BCCI should either cancel or shift the match to other state to honour the sentiments of families of martyrs,” HPCC president Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said. Sukkhu also demanded that 50 per cent income from eight other matches to be played at the same venue be disbursed among the kins of those who laid down their lives in successive wars against Pakistan or during anti-terror operations.
He said that Kangra is home to a large number of soldiers, including Kargil War heroes like Captain Vikram Batra and Captain Saurabh Kalia and a war memorial is located close to Dharamsala stadium.
“Our party is not against holding other World Cup matches but only opposing the one against Pakistan as it would hurt the sentiments of the people, especially the families of martyrs,” he said.
Sukhu also asked the BJP MP Anurag Thakur to make his stand clear on the issue as ‘he had earlier conducted a march from Kolkata to Lal Chowk in Kashmir to hoist national flag’.
He said that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi would visit the state in April during which he would address major rallies and meetings in all four parliamentary constituencies.
Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh ex-servicemen league, which has been opposing the match, has now shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prevail upon the BCCI to abandon it in the wake of the attack by Pakistani terrorists on Pathankot Airbase in which two jawans from the state were killed.
President of the league Vijay singh Mankotia, in his letter to the PM said that since the people were mourning the deaths of their brave soldiers, they would not have ‘relished’ the slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ by Pakistani supporters during the match.
“When the Indo-Pak talks can be cancelled after the terror attack, why not the cricket match,” Mankotia said, adding that over 1 lakh ex-servicemen would launch an agitation to prevent the Pakistani team from entering Dharamsala.
Mankotia said that close on the heels of the Pathankot attack, two more Himachali jawans were killed during an encounter in Pulwama.
Notably, former Chief Minister and BJP MP Shanta Kumar and former BJP MLA Rakesh Pathania have also opposed the match. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has said that he would apprise the Prime Minister about sentiments of the people.