After Congress MLAs and sitting cabinet ministers openly asked Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to stop India-Pakistan slated for March 19 as part of the T-20 World cup series, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur now faces trouble from veteran BJP leader and Kangra MP Shanta Kumar.
Known for taking a stand on party and other issues, Shanta Kumar on Saturday dashed off a strong-worded letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting that the match should not be allowed at Dharamshala, headquarter of Kangra district – a home to hundreds of valiant jawans, martyrs and ex-servicemen.
He feared that holding the match at Dharamshala close on the heels of martyrdom of two gallant soldiers – Sanjeevan Rana and Jagdish Chand –who laid down their lives fighting Pakistan militants at Pathankot airbase attack, can create a serious law and order situation, apart from hurting the sentiments of the families living barely few meters away from the stadium.
“In Kangra, every family has one person serving in the Indian army, or ex-servicemen. Recently, we lost two soliders fighting Pakistani militants at Pathankot. There is a shaheed Samarak (war memorial) barely few meters away from the stadium as a symbol of supreme sacrifice of the jawans for the nation,” he wrote.
Shanta Kumar informed the prime minister that just a few days back family members and kins of two Pathankot attack martyrs had also assembled at this war memorial and pledged that they will not allow the India-Pakistan match to be held on the soil that gave birth to the brave and gallant soldiers.
Infact, the protests against this particular match, barring rest of the matches slated at Dharamshala, was already growing. Ex-Services league has opposed the match and threatened not to allow Pakistan players to put their feet at Kangra’s pious soil. The PCC and Congress MLAs are also protesting against the event. Situation is turning highly unfavourable for Pakistani players and their sympathiers,thus there was a question of security risks, he cautioned.
Making a vehement appeal to the prime minister to get the match cancelled, Shanta Kumar also reminded Modi that Pakistan’s intentions have always been highly doubtful.
“Remember, despite Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji going on a bus yatra to Lahore, Pakistan responded against India by doing a Kargil against us. Now, after your (Modi)’s visit to Lahore to improve relations with Pakistan, what India got was Gurdaspur and Pathankot attacks. If the bilateral talks can be suspended with Pakistan, why a match can’t cancelled?” he asked. He also made an emotional appeal to the prime minister to respect the sentiments of the people of Himachal Pradesh and memories of martyrs to see that match was not held on March 19.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh too hailed Shanta Kumar’s stand and advised the BCCI to take a call on the matter.
Earlier Ex-Service League Chairman Major (Retd) Vijai Singh Mankotia has also threatened a dharna and protests at Dharamshala to stop the match while Transport Minister G S Bali has given a 10-day ultimatum to BCCI saying if the match was not cancelled a massive agitation will start.