DHARAMSALA: An Indian group has threatened to dig up the pitch of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala to protest Pakistan’s cricket team participation in the World Twenty20 fixture against India on March 19, according to a report published on the NDTV website.
The All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF), led by former minister Maninderjeet Singh Bitta, said on Friday that it would dig up Dharamsala stadium’s pitch to protest Pakistan’s participation.
“If the Pakistan team comes to Dharamsala to play against Indian cricket team, we will dig out the pitch in HPCA [Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association] stadium,” said the national president of the AIATF, Virender Shandilya.
“There is a high risk that Pakistani terrorists can enter the area during the match and if Himachal Pradesh government allows the tie, it will be the disrespect towards the martyrs of Pathankot and Pampore,” warned Shandilya.
He claimed to have written letters to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the home minister to lodge a protest, as well as Himachal Pradesh chief minister and the leader of the opposition.
Radical groups have called for Pakistan to cricket with India in the recent past.
In 1999 protesters from Shiv Sena dug up the pitch in Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla stadium just before India snapped cricketing ties with Pakistan to protest against a tour by Pakistan, though the game was unaffected.
In 2004, Pakistan’s religious parties promised India a trouble-free tour while Shiv Sena opposed the series
In 2012, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) said India should refuse to host the tour until Pakistan brought to justice the masterminds behind the Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead.
Chief Minister Himachal Pradesh said Sunday that the match should be moved to another venue out of respect for the “martyrs” killed in the assault by militants on an Indian air force base in neighbouring Punjab.
He threatened not to provide security for Pakistan’s players at the venue in the scenic Himalayan town.
While Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday ordered Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali to ‘send a team to India’ to assess measures adopted for Pakistan cricketers’ security for the World T20.
A final decision on whether Pakistan’s cricket team will fly to India will be made after a report is submitted by the ‘security team’, said the statement.
Pakistan kick off their World T20 campaign at Kolkata before they travel to Dharamsala for the high-profile encounter with arch-rivals India.