Cricket stadiums across India have taken down portraits of Pakistan’s former captain-turned-Prime Minister Imran Khan amid protests over the suicide attack in Pulwama district of Indian-Administered Kashmir which killed 41 Indian soldiers.
India has blamed Pakistan for the suicide attack that sparked widespread calls for action.
Imran Khan, who led Pakistan to a World Cup victory in 1992, is considered one of the best players ever, and his portraits are found in many grounds around the world. However, the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai and the Test ground at Mohali have removed pictures of PM Khan and other Pakistan stars in protest.
“We respect the sentiments of the people of India who are angry by what happened in Kashmir. In protest we took off the pictures of all Pakistani players. We have kept them in safe custody and will see later what we are going to do about them,” Punjab Cricket Association Treasurer Ajay Tyagi told AFP.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) slammed the removal of the portraits.
“We have always believed and emphasised that sports and politics should be kept separate. History tells us that sports, particularly cricket, have always played a key role in building bridges between people and countries,” PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan said in a statement.
He called the protests “highly regrettable.”
Indian production company IMG Reliance have pulled out of broadcasting the Pakistan Super League fixtures while cricketing websites namely Cricbuzz and Crictracker stopped providing updates of the matches.
India froze bilateral cricketing ties with Pakistan after deadly attacks on Mumbai in 2008 and the arch rivals only play each other abroad. They are scheduled to meet in the World Cup in England starting June 15.