Pak to ICC: “Punish India”
to raise funds for martyrs’ families?
New Delhi, March 12: The 2019 Valentine Day, February 14, will be black for India’s history and in particular for the families of those killed in Pulwama, Kashmir in that infamous terrorist attack on the CRPF convoy when 40 jawans were killed on the spot and 9 more died in hospital while many more are still in hospitals. Those who died have left behind their families, aged parents, wives, young siblings and children – all of whom were dependant on the lone income of their bread winner who perished in that attack.
India wide efforts are being made to raise funds to help those families. While many film stars, big and small have openly helped, many other stalwarts in their respective fields have been exhorting their fellow countrymen to open their hearts and pockets to donate for this worthy cause.
How could Indian cricketers – who are considered Gods by their followers – not follow suit?
Thus, the Indian cricket team came up with a special way of raising money and appealing to their fans to contribute towards those unfortunate victims’ families – the martyrs of the Pulwama attack – by wearing Army caps with BCCI logos during the match and all team members donating their match fees to the Nationa Defence Fund. The Indian captain Virat Kohli made the announcement at the toss during India’s third ODI against Australia in Ranchi on March 8 and appealed to all Indians to donate generously for this worthy cause.
“This is to pay respects to the martyrs of the Pulwama attack and their families. All the players in the team have decided to donate their match fees of this particular game to the National Defence Fund. I, as the captain of the team, urge everyone in the country to do the same – donate how much ever they can to the National Defence Fund and help in the education and the well-being of the family and the children of those who lost their lives in the attack so it is a very special cap and a very special game today,” Kohli said at the toss.
Kohli called the army camouflage caps “very special”.
MS Dhoni distributed the caps among his team members.
India’s apex cricketing body, BCCI had also officially tweeted:
#TeamIndia will be sporting camouflage caps today as mark of tribute to the loss of lives in Pulwama terror attack and the armed forces
And to encourage countrymen to donate to the National Defence Fund for taking care of the education of the dependents of the martyrs #JaiHind
But Pakistan took umbrage to this act of the Indian cricket team. The act of wearing the army camouflage cap by all the members in the Indian squad – players, coaches and support staff as a sign of respect to those who lost their lives in the tragic incident – was labelled by Pakistan as politicization of the gentleman’s game.
An irate Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked the ICC to take note of the deed without being reminded by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to do so.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry echoeing Qureshi’s sentiment went a step further.
“It’s just not Cricket. I hope ICC take action for politicising Gentleman’s game … if Indian Cricket team not be stopped, Pak Cricket team should wear black bands to remind The World about Indian atrocities in Kashmir… I urge #PCB to lodge formal protest,” Chaudhury tweeted.
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani said he has “strongly taken up the matter with the ICC.”
“There’s absolutely no misunderstanding in the ICC about our position,” Mani said late Sunday in Karachi.
“We believe that cricket and sports should not be used for politics and we have said this very clearly. Their (India) credibility in the cricketing world has gone down very badly.”
On Monday, 11 March, ICC put all the controversy to rest by revealing that ICC had granted permission to the Indian team to wear those Amry camouflage caps in their ODI game in Ranchi.
“The BCCI sought permission from the ICC to wear the caps as part of a fundraising drive and in memory of fallen soldiers who have died, which was granted,” ICC spokeswoman Claire Furlong told The Associated Press in an e-mail on Monday.
Pakistani stance was based on the two past incidents where the ICC either reprimanded or banned international players for showing off their political sentiments during international matches.
In the first incident, England all-rounder Moeen Ali was banned five years ago for wearing wristbands showing off slogans “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” during a test match against India. And in the second, South African leg spinner Imran Tahir was reprimanded for showing of an image of Pakistan pop singer Junaid Jamshed underneath his playing T-shirt during a T20 against Sri Lanka in 2017.
“You have two examples from the past already, where both Imran Tahir and Moeen Ali were sanctioned for something similar,” Mani said.
“The ICC had taken strong action against them and we have sought similar action against India. The permission they took was for a different purpose but they acted differently”, he added.
Indian fans disagree. It is Pakistani ministers and officials who are mistaken of comparing apples with oranges, they argue. Clearly, the two examples given, do not compare with the BCCI chosen course of action, they argue.