Himachal CM refuses to use force on India-Pakistan match protestors

Shimla, March 9 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Wednesday said his government would not use force against the protestors of the India-Pakistan match slated in the state on March 19.

“We have not refused providing security to the match but we won’t lathi-charge or use batons on the protestors as they have the right to protest,” the chief minister told reporters here.

However, without mincing words, he also clarified that the protestors would not be allowed to obstruct the match if it takes place as scheduled.

A team of security officials from Pakistan, which visited the match venue on March 7, was apprehensive about the security of the Pakistan cricketers when they arrive for the March 19 match.

Pakistan on Tuesday asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the BCCI to shift the match against India from Dharamsala to another location due to security concerns.

The Pakistan cricket team’s visit for the World Twenty20 match against India in Dharamsala is opposed by ex-servicemen and families of martyrs from the state.

They say they will not allow Pakistan to play in Dharamsala as the neighbouring country was responsible for repeated terror attacks in India in which many soldiers belonging to Kangra district — where the match venue Dharamsala is situated — were killed.

BCCI secretary and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Anurag Thakur, who also heads the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), has said it would be “very difficult” to shift the match from Dharamsala at this stage.

The chief minister said it is for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to decide whether or not to hold the match under the prevailing circumstances.

“It’s up to the BCCI to decide to hold the match (in Dharamsala) or not. But we should respect the sentiments of the families of the martyrs,” Virbhadra Singh said.

Vijai Singh Mankotia, chief of the state Ex-Servicemen’s League, refused to relent on the opposition to the match.

“Terror and T20 cannot go together. There is no give and take on this issue. It’s a question of sentiments of the soldiers, the families of martyrs and ex-servicemen,” the former Congress minister has said.

“Sentiments are flared. The match venue should be shifted. We are meeting on March 10 to discuss the issue again,” Mankotia said.

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