Three days after at least 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a bomb attack in Pulwama, the IS Bindra PCA Stadium in Mohali removed 15 photos of Pakistani cricketers including Javed Miandad, Shahid Afridi and Wasim Akram put up on its premises.
The stadium, which has hosted Pakistan in seven ODI’s, one Test and two T20I matches — which also included the 2011 semi-final of the ICC World Cup — since 1994, had pictures from these tournaments put up in the visiting team’s dressing room, long room and corridors of the stadium. On Sunday, the stadium’s office-bearers held a meeting and decided to remove them.
“To show solidarity with the country and honour the CRPF personnel…the Punjab Cricket Association decided to remove the pictures of Pakistani cricketers…It is a unanimous decision and we all stand with the country…If relations with Pakistan improve and the government changes its policy regarding playing against Pakistan, we will put up the pictures again…,” said RP Singla, honorary secretary, PCA.
In 2011, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his then Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani had watched the World Cup semi-final that Pakistan lost, at the stadium. After the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, India decided to not play any bilateral series against Pakistan.
“As a cricketer, I believe nothing can be above the country and if PCA has taken this decision, we support it. The honour of our Armed Forces is supreme… Whenever such attacks stop or there is no supporting of terror from Pakistan, a decision can be taken…to play again,” said Reetinder Singh Sodhi, former Indian all-rounder, who captained the winning Indian U-15 team in the ICC World Cup.
Former Indian cricketer and selector Bhupinder Singh Senior said, “BCCI, is one of world’s richest bodies. They could have also donated a substantial amount of money to the families of CRPF personnel. That would have been the biggest support to the grieving families and to honour our Armed Forces.”