DURING A drill performed by armed forces of India and Pakistan at Attari-Wagah border daily, Pakistani cricketer Hasan Ali entered the flag-lowering ceremony from the Pakistani side Saturday evening and made his signature wicket-taking gesture towards the Border Security Force (BSF) and Indian audience.
The BSF has taken strong note of a civilian from Pakistan “interfering” in the ceremony on the Pakistani side. As per protocol, the ceremony is to be conducted only by the BSF on the Indian side and Rangers on the Pakistani side.
“The act has hit the sanctity of the parade. We will lodge a protest with Pakistan Rangers,” BSF Inspector General (Punjab Frontier) Mukul Goel told The Sunday Express over phone.
Goel added, “Anyone can make any aggressive gesture in the viewers’ gallery on both sides but no public person can interfere in the parade. Before or after the parade, the people are free to do such things, but not in the middle of the parade,” Goel added.
BSF spokesperson and DIG R S Kataria said, “I am on leave. I have inquired into it. A BSF officer at Attari has told me that the national cricket team of Pakistan had come to witness the ceremony at Wagah. One of the cricketers from their team started making provocative gestures during the drill. It happened on Pakistani side. Pakistani officers later made that player sit. Since it is a drill of forces of two countries, BSF is lodging protest with Pakistan Rangers.”
Two BSF officers at Attari declined to comment on the matter, saying they were “not authorised to speak to the media”.
In a video that went viral, Ali is seen making his way into the midst of the ceremony as Rangers look on. Ali, a medium pace bowler, is seen patting on his thigh, raising arms like Rangers and celebrating just as he does after taking a wicket before a man in civilian clothes escorts him back amid applause from Pakistani audience. Ali’s act spans nearly 40 seconds.
The official Twitter handle of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) posted a number of photographs of Pakistani cricket team’s visit to Wagah Saturday, among them a picture of Ali wearing a red cap.
PCB also retweeted another a tweet by another Pakistani cricketer, Shadab Khan, in which Khan tweeted a video of Ali’s act and wrote: “Mera dost @RealHa55an entertaining everyone at Wahga border. He really does know how to engage the crowd.”
A video titled ‘Hasan Ali gatecrashed the flag lowering ceremony at the Wagah Border to hype up the crowd with his trademark wicket celebration’ and uploaded by Pakistani newspaper Dawn on its Facebook page went viral and had nearly 12,000 ‘likes’, 2,000 comments, 9,800 shares and 22,5000 views by late evening Saturday.