Even as fissures have appeared within the Congress government over its opposition to India-Pakistan World T20 match in Dharamshala, Indian Ex-services League – a body threatening to storm venue of the match – hardened its stand on Thursday.
The league led by Major (Retd) Vijai Singh Mankotia, also a former cabinet minister, declared on Thursday that the issue is ‘non-negotiable’ and gave a call to ‘Operation Balidan’ on March 19 when match is scheduled to take place. “It’s a matter of do or die for us. There can’t be give and take on this,” he announced, after meeting the chief minister to convey his stand.
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Mankotia rejected Anurag Thakur’s charge of politics behind the move. “There is no politics. It’s an issue linked to sentiments, emotions and feeling. Politics is in the BCCI, not here,” said Mankotia, alleging that BCCI secretary has adopted an adamant attitude because of the commercial angle behind the match.
Ex-service League president declared that even if Anurag Thakur or HPCA is able to convince the families of the martyrs to allow the match to be held as per schedule, his organisation will remain firm on its stand. A meeting of the ex-servicemen has been called at Dharamshala on March 10 to draw up the final strategy.
Mankotia said he has nothing to do with Congress position on the issue. The Ex-services League was an non-political body and there were war widows and widows of soldiers who are its members – few having fought wars against Pakistan.
He set-out a term for Anurag Thakur to allow the match to be held. “Because, Pakistani jehadis had sent us beheaded bodies of two soldiers –Hem Raj and Sudhakar. We want head, for head ie head of Maulana Masood Azhar, JeM Chief and mastermind behind Pathankot and other attacks.”
Mankotia alleged that the BCCI was trying to send its emissaries to the families of the martyrs and some considerations were being also offered to lure them. Earlier, HPCA had offered to give some part of the match earnings to them. “This is like rubbing salt on their wounds. Don’t try to play with sentiments,” he advised.
The Ex-services league raised another fear that 5000 to 7000 Pakistani spectators are planning to come to Dharamshala to watch the match via Kashmir.
“If you allow them in the wake of intelligence inputs about presence of JeM militants and other jehadis among them, and moment they raise pro-Pakistan slogans or show Pakistan flags, who will tolerate this? Imagine what will be the situation?” Mankotia asked and appreciated the stand taken by the CM.
He asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and cancel the match as there will be serious law and order situation and ‘blood sport’.
Meanwhile State Transport minister G S Bali, who also hails from Kangra, said, “The issue of opposition to the match is not alone two or four martyrs. The number of martyrs is nine in less than 10 months. They include Sanjeevan Rana (Jan 1, 2016), Jagdish Chand ( Jan 1, 2016), Om Prakash ( Feb 21, 2016), Rajkumar Rana (Feb 20, 2016), Sunil Kumar (June 5, 2015), Tilak Raj (June 11, 2015), Ram Rattan (July 26, 2016), Brij Lal (Oct 14, 2015) and Prakash Chand (June 20, 2015).
“It’s better Anurag Thakur understands and respects the feelings of the families and get the match shifted to elsewhere in the country before March 5, 2016 when he proposes to meet the families and declare his line of action to storm the stadium with massive protests,” Bali announced.
The minister had given a 10-day ultimatum to the BCCI last week which ends on March 6, 2016.