NEW DELHI: Talks were called off between the cricket body chiefs of India and Pakistan in Mumbai on Monday after the rightwing Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena raided the headquarters of the BCCI, India’s nodal administrative board for cricket, reports said.

The Indian Express said Shiv Sena workers shouted anti-Pakistan slogans ahead of a meeting between PCB and BCCI officials over resumption of cricket ties.

The meeting between the two cricket boards now stands cancelled, local reports said.

On Sunday, Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shaharyar Khan and head of the PCB’s executive committee Najam Sethi arrived in Mumbai hoping to convince the BCCI to confirm the bilateral series in December.

Besides their meeting with the new BCCI President Shashank Manohar, Mr Khan and Mr Sethi were due to meet Secretary Anurag Thakur along with other government officials in New Delhi, reports said.

ICC withdraws umpire Aleem Dar from the two remaining one-day matches

“The trip is being made on the invitation of Shashank Manohar who took over as the new Indian cricket chief,” the Express quoted an official in the PCB as saying. Manohar looked on unperturbed as Shiv Sainiks surrounded his desk.

Mr Khan had also discussed the planned series with BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur on the sidelines of the ICC meeting in Dubai.

Reports said Mr Khan and Mr Sethi had both gone to India after holding discussions with Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz.

“The PCB is mentally prepared to even settle for a shorter series but wants it to be Pakistan’s home series and in the UAE,” the source said.

He said Mr Sethi, who heads the Pakistan Super League project, will also be officially asking the Indian board to allow some of their players to appear in the league scheduled for next February in Dubai and Sharjah.

Media reports have talked about a possible triangular series in December also involving Bangladesh.

In Oct 1991, Sena cadres led by Shishir Shinde dug up the Wankhede pitch so that Pakistan could not play in the city. The series was later called off.

Meanwhile, the ICC on Monday withdrew Pakistan umpire Aleem Dar from officiating in the remaining two matches of the ongoing one-day series between India and South Africa in the wake of Shiv Sena raiding the BCCI offices.

Mr Dar, a member of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, had officiated in the first three matches and was also scheduled to umpire in the fourth and fifth ODIs in Chennai and Mumbai on Oct 22 and 25, respectively.

Reports said the ICC made the decision following Monday’s incident in Mumbai where a group of Sena activists stormed the offices of Board of Control for Cricket in India.

“Under the present circumstances, it will be unreasonable to expect from Aleem that he will be able to perform his duties to the best of his abilities. As such, he has been withdrawn and his replacement will be announced in due course,” an ICC spokesman was quoted as saying.

Earlier, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur had said that Dar’s presence would not be affected by any threat from any group.

“There was a possibility of a protest in Saurashtra as well. There 50,000 people were supposed to turn up in Rajkot. So I am not going into any threat perception. The fact is that India will also host the T20 World Cup in 2016 and it is the responsibility of every Indian to keep our image of sportsmanship alive,” Mr Thakur said.

The Shiv Sena’s threats against ties involving Pakistan are well known, and it is not clear who gave the signal for the PCB officials to visit Mumbai under the circumstances.

“We are opposing Pakistanis associated with the IPL coming to India. We will talk to the organisers to drop Pakistani coaches, commentators and officials. If they do not listen then we will ruin the game in Shiv Sena style,” a party spokesman said on Friday.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2015

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