The Himachal Pradesh government on Friday assured the state High Court that it would provide security for the March 19 India-Pakistan World T20 match in Dharamsala even as the Pakistan government decided to send a security team to assess the situation in India.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Sureshwar Thakur on Friday passed the orders on the PIL hoping that the state government will perform its legal obligation to maintain law and order at Dharamshala during the match. “We hope and trust that, in the meantime, the respondents (government) will resolve the controversy at their own level, while keeping in view the national interests, and the learned Advocate General will put his best efforts,” said the order.
The order was passed on a PIL filed by Sudhir Prakash Dogra, a resident of Shimla, who claimed that due to the controversies uncertainty prevailed over the match in Dharamsala, which is part of a series of 10 matches to be held there. He asserted that if the match is cancelled it would dent the image of the country and cause huge loss to the state. The next date of hearing was set for March 9.
The Pakistan government’s decision to send a security team to assess the ground realities was taken following a meeting between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad, reports PTI. “The Prime Minister directed the Interior Minister to ensure foolproof security measures for the cricket team in India in coordination with Pakistani High Commissioner in Delhi,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The decision was taken even though Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said central paramilitary forces would be provided to ensure security for the March 19 clash between India and Pakistan. “If the (Himachal Pradesh) chief minister asks for security forces, we will provide,” Singh said.
The BCCI, on its part, has assured foolproof security to Pakistan, a day after the PCB threatened to pull out of the tournament citing safety concerns.
“As far as the BCCI is concerned, foolproof security will be provided to Pakistan. They should not worry about the security arrangements. Now the decision has to be taken by the PCB (if they want to come or not). They are accountable to the ICC (world body). The PCB should decide on the matter but we will be providing foolproof security to their players,” top BCCI functionary Rajeev Shukla said.
On PCB seeking a written assurance from the Indian government, Shukla said “how can we talk on behalf of the government?”
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan said a final call will be taken after the security team returns. “The situation now is that only after this security team gives the okay can we send the team to India. The government has given us clearance to play in the World T20 but after the security concerns surrounding the Pakistan and India match in Dharamsala a report was given to the Prime Minister,” Shaharyar added.
Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya, who is also the Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress president, on Friday announced his decision to stage a protest march to the cricket stadium if the March 19 match is not called off.
He felt it was not proper to host the match in Dharamsala after four Himachal Pradesh jawans were killed in the line of duty, including two who laid down their lives during the Pathankot airbase attack in Janaury. “Holding of such a match is an insult to the martyrs. Youth Congress is against any engagement with Pakistan till the time the country stops supporting terror activities,” Vikramaditya said.
He termed Thakur’s meeting with Virbhadra as a mere political stunt and requested the state government to continue opposing the match while calling on the families of martyrs to demand the same.
Vikramaditya said his organisation is against any kind of sporting engagement with Pakistan till the time the country stops sponsoring terror activities against India and takes strict against such terrorists.
“As per our resolution during the HP Youth Congress executive committee meeting, we will continue to oppose holding of T20 match with Pakistan at Dharamshala Stadium in Himachal,” the chief minister’s son said.
“Hosting the match is purely commercial and it would not have any impact on diplomatic ties between the two countries as is being projected by the BJP leaders,” Vikramaditya added.
On Friday Arun Singh, an HPCA officebearer and younger brother of Thakur, met the widow of Havaldar Sanjeevan Rana, who died in the Pathankot airbase attack. Reports said Pinki Rana, widow of the martyr and other family members made it clear they will not support the India-Pakistan match at any cost.
Reports have also emerged of Anti-Terrorist Front of India national president Virender Shandilya threatening to dig up the Dharamsala pitch if the match goes on. “If the Pakistan team comes to Dharamsala to play against the Indian cricket team, we will dig up the pitch at HPCA stadium,” Shandilya was quoted as saying.
With uncertainty prevailing over Ferozeshah Kotla hosting the World T20 matches, the BCCI has decided to take stock of the preparations on March 8 after the Delhi High Court dismissed the DDCA’s restoration plea seeking NOC from the South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
“We will have a meeting with the DDCA officials on March 8 and we will take stock of the situation. As far as BCCI is concerned, the matches in Delhi are on,” BCCI secretary Thakur said.
(With PTI inputs)