Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar on Monday demanded an inquiry into an “unofficial” Indian kabaddi team’s controversial visit to Pakistan for a world championship. Jakhar asked how the players had managed to go without any official permission or clearance from the Union Sports Ministry.
The Sports Ministry and the sport’s national federation claimed that they have not given clearance to any athlete for competing in the tournament in the neighbouring country. “An inquiry must be held into how the players went there,” Jakhar told reporters in Chandigarh.
Punjab’s Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi added that they have not sent any team to represent the state in any championship in Pakistan. “We have got nothing to do with it,” Sodhi said while responding to questions that many of these players belong to Punjab.
Jakhar added, “The whole thing is very serious and it needs to be thoroughly investigated. It needs to be investigated if these players have gone there as couriers. They may not be Indian citizens and only Indian passport holders and one wonders if there is a ‘Referendum 2020’ angle to it.”
“We need to know the intent behind sending the players and it must be thoroughly probed. I would request the union home minister to look into this serious issue,” he said.
‘Referendum 2020’ is a campaign by a foreign-based organisation for a separate Sikh state. The state Congress chief blamed SAD for “facilitating the players in procuring their visas”, which was vehemently denied by SAD spokesperson and senior leader Daljit Singh Cheema. “What has our party got to do with this,” Chema said.
A contingent from India reached Lahore on Saturday via the Wagah Border to take part in the championship, being hosted by Pakistan for the first time. Pictures and footage of the Indians arriving in Lahore have surfaced on social media.
The tournament started on Monday at the Punjab Football Stadium in Lahore. The administrator of Amateur Kabbadi Federation of India (AKFI) Justice (Retd) S P Garg had also said that the national body has not cleared any such team.
All the six previous editions of the World Kabbadi Championship took place in India between 2010 and 2019. India have won all six championships, defeating Pakistan in the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions.
Pakistani organisers said that teams from Australia, England, Germany, Iran, Azerbaijan, Sierra Leone, Kenya, and Canada are also taking part in the event.
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