Anurag Thakur, secretary for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has criticised Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh for stating his concerns over security just weeks before the World Twenty20 game between India and Pakistan is due to take place in Dharamsala.
According to reports in India, Singh said in a letter to the country’s government that his state would not be able to provide the required level of security for the match, one of the most high profile of the tournament which India is staging from March 8 to April 3. India is scheduled to play Pakistan on March 19.
The tie is one of eight World T20 matches due to take place in Dharamsala, including a game between Australia and New Zealand the day before the India-Pakistan tie.
In the reported letter, Singh said his concerns only relate to the India-Pakistan game, with no mention of other matches. He said that his government was “not opposing holding of matches”, but highlighted a number of recent incidents that have taken place in Dharamsala.
“Many incidents have taken place in recent past, like Pathankot attack,” Singh said, according to the ESPN Cricinfo website. “Soldiers from Himachal lost their lives in J&K (Jammu and Kashmir). If our war veterans don't want Indo-Pak match to be held in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association should accept their condition.”
However, Thakur, who is also a member of parliament with the ruling BJP central government, accused Singh of unnecessarily involving politics, stating that games and dates were confirmed some time ago. Thakur said: “The venues for World Cup were finalised a year in advance. The allotment of matches for the World Cup were finalised many months ago.
“Fans and media from around the globe based on the fixtures make their bookings and we make sure we provide them with the facilities. At the eleventh hour to show your failure that we cannot provide the security, it only gives a bad name to the state and the country. I feel there should be no politics (involved).”
Thakur, who also said that he knew of many ministers in favour of the match being held in Dharamshala, cited the recent South Asian Games in Guwahati and Shillong, India, which featured Pakistani athletes, as examples of how events that feature Pakistan can successfully be staged in India.
He added: “If Assam can host the South Asian Games, and 100-plus athletes from Pakistan can participate, then why is it not possible for Himachal government? I think there should not be any politics. It is a matter of pride for the country.”
Thakur added that the Himachal Pradesh government’s stand is “unfortunate”, as it may be perceived as supporting anti-India sentiment certain areas of Pakistan. He said: “Pakistan used to say that Pakistan's team is not secure in India and if the Congress government in Himachal is supporting that statement or vindicating that then it is unfortunate.”