MUMBAI: Activists of India’s far-right political group Shiv Sena attacked the headquarters of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday, just before Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan was to meet BCCI chief Shashank Manohar to discuss a bilateral series in December, NDTV reported.
According to the report, Sena activists crashed through the gates of the office in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium that serves as the headquarters of the BCCI.
The activists shouted anti-Pakistan slogans and held posters that read ‘Shahryar Khan go back’, determined to stop Manohar from meeting his Pakistani counterpart.
The protesters entered Manohar’s office and crowded around his desk, shouting slogans.
“Ten people have been arrested and bailed,” Mumbai Police Deputy Commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni told AFP, adding that an offence of “rioting “had been registered.
“Thirty-five were involved so we are looking to arrest a few more,” he added.
The protesters demanded that Manohar cancel talks with PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan that were planned in Mumbai on Monday.
Shiv Sena has also threatened to stop Pakistan’s Aleem Dar from officiating in the fifth and final ODI between India and South Africa to be played in Mumbai on Sunday, said a report published on the Cricinfo website.
India’s hooliganism likely to disrupt World T20
“If there is so much fire in India and people are so against the series with Pakistan, then it will create difficulties for the World Twenty20,” ICC President Zaheer Abbas said.
Pakistani players, he said, might refuse to tour India because their lives could “be at risk”.
The former Pakistani batsman condemned the event and said that it’s not something new. “It has been happening for long,” Zaheer was quoted as saying by Zee News.
“But being the ICC president, I want cricket to spread all around the world,” he added.
“Pakistan is not asking India to play in Pakistan. Pakistan is asking for a bilateral series to be played at a neutral venue,” he said.
Zaheer termed the India-Pakistan cricket rivalry as the best and said that people are desperate to watch the Asian cricketing giants to compete on the field.
“Nothing could be better than India-Pakistan playing with each other. The whole world and the people of both the countries are waiting for the series,” said Zaheer.
“The world is hoping that India will give good news to the cricketing world,” he added.
Congress lawmaker and ex-BCCI vice president Rajeev Shukla condemned the attack on BCCI headquarters on Twitter saying that “cricketing decisions should be left to BCCI.”
Meanwhile, Chief Executive of International Cricket Council (ICC) David Richardson has regretted the attack on BCCI office by Shiv Sena extremists, reported Radio Pakistan.
Addressing a news conference in Dubai, he said the cricket playing nations should promote mutual cooperation.
In New Delhi, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur condemned the office incursion.
“If you want to protest, protest on the street but not at a office, home or residence,” he told reporters.
Thakur, a member of parliament from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had earlier ruled out resumption of cricket ties until political tensions ease.
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan and head of the PCB’s executive committee Najam Sethi arrived in India on Sunday on invitation of the BCCI chief in a bid to convince the Indian cricket board to confirm the bilateral series in December.
The much-anticipated meeting between the two boards was deferred after Shiv Sena activists charged into the BCCI office.
The Indian and Pakistani boards had signed a pact for six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023, beginning with Pakistan’s home series in December.
India have not played a bilateral Test series against Pakistan since 2007, though they did host them for two T20Is and three ODIs between December 2012 and January 2013.
The incident comes a week after activists belonging to Shiv Sena — a junior partner in a ruling coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Maharashtra state government — attacked Sudheendra Kulkarni, who organised a book launch in Mumbai for former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri.
The group was also accused of using threats to force thecancellation of an appearance in Mumbai by Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali.
Shiv Sena, a hardline outfit founded by the late Bal Thackeray, has in the past threatened Pakistani athletes to deter them from engaging in competitive sports in India.
Thackeray often referred to Indian Muslims as “anti-nationals” and called for Hindu suicide squads to counter what he saw as a rise in ‘Islamic terrorism’.