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India-Pakistan World Cup clash under scanner as 4 Indian personnel martyred in Kashmir anti-terror fight

Opposition leader Priyanka Chaturvedi raised question over the October 14 fixture in Ahmedabad after Indian sports minister Anurag Thakur said India will not play bilateral cricket against the arch-rivals.

Security personnel during a search operation for terrorists in the forest area of Gadole, Kokernag in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, September 16, 2023. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

IT was almost a rerun of 2019 when serious question marks were raised over the India-Pakistan fixture at the 50-over World Cup held in England after several Indian paramilitary troops were martyred in a dastardly suicide terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. Calls were made to scrap the game at Old Trafford after 44 Central Reserve Police Force personnel lost their lives after a terrorist rammed an explosive-laden SUV into their bus.

The match was eventually held.

On Friday (15), Indian sports minister Anurag Thakur said bilateral cricket matches between India and Pakistan would not resume till Islamabad’s support for terrorists stopped. However, the opposition were not convinced much and asked him about the upcoming India-Pakistan game in the 50-over World Cup scheduled in Ahmedabad in India’s Gujarat state on October 14.

Thakur’s statement came amid the ongoing encounter between Indian forces and terrorists in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir in which four security personnel were martyred.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had decided long ago that we would not engage in bilateral matches with Pakistan until they put an end to terrorism, cross-border attacks, and infiltration. I believe the sentiments of our nation and its citizens align with this stance,” Thakur said.

The BCCI has as its secretary Jay Shah, son of Indian home minister Amit Shah, the second-most powerful leader of its ruling Bharatiya Janata Party after prime minister Narendra Modi.

The minister’s statement was countered by opposition parliamentarian Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) who asked about the status of the World Cup clash between the two arch-rivals next month.

The undivided Shiv Sena, led by late firebrand Hindu nationalist leader Bal Thackeray, has always opposed engagements with Pakistan and its people and even queered up a cricket pitch in Delhi in 1999 ahead of an India-Pakistan Test match.

In a post on X, Chaturvedi asked, “Will the World Cup Match between the two scheduled to be held in Ahmedabad be considered bilateral and be cancelled in respect of the sentiment of the nation? He should clarify that as a minister and so should BCCI.”

India remained witness to heart-wrenching scenes as the families of the four security personnel, including colonel Manpreet Singh, major Ashish Dhonchak, deputy superintendent of Jammu and Kashmir Police Humayun Bhat and another soldier paid them teary tributes after they were martyred in anti-terror operation in Kokernag area of Anantnag this week. A few terrorists were also neutralised during the gunfight.

The gunfight entered its fourth consecutive day on Saturday (16) with the terrorists holed up in a cave on a hill.

Indian federal minister VK Singh, a former army general, lashed out at Pakistan and urged the international community to isolate Islamabad and put pressure on it to act against cross-border terror.

There has also been a renewed call to sever all ties with Pakistan, including at international sporting events, especially in cricket.

India and Pakistan have not engaged in a bilateral cricket series for more than a decade now. The last time it happened was in 2012 when Pakistan visited India. The latter’s last visit to Pakistan for cricket matches was in 2008.

India refused to send its team to Pakistan for the ongoing Asia Cup which was supposed to be hosted exclusively by it. Later, a compromise was reached by making Sri Lanka the other co-host and most of the games, including India’s matches, were held there.

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