A group of about 50 Shiv Sena activists on Monday stormed the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) office at the Wankhede Stadium and protested about the planned series between Pakistan and India in December.
They waved placards reading, “Shahryar, Go Back” before BCCI president Shashank Manohar was to meet was to meet with his Pakistani counterpart Shahryar Khan. Security was beefed up at the Wankhede Stadium and the police have arrest about 10 activists. Police sources said there was no damage to any office property.
However, the meeting did not take place alt the BCCI office though Manohar and Khan reportedly met at the hotel in south Mumbai and discussed a potential bilateral series. They are expected to meet again in Delhi on Tuesday. The Indian and Pakistani cricket boards had signed a pact for six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023.
Shiv Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut defended today’s protest reiterating that the party was against any engagement with Pakistan as long as it was involved in acts of terror.
However, the BJP MP Anurag Thakur, who is the BCCI secretary, criticised the Shiv Sena, saying: “The Shiv Sena has to introspect. Barging inside an office is not a way to protest. At this moment there is no series between India and Pakistan. If the boards meet to discuss long term issues they should have no problem.”
Monday’s protest comes close on the heels of cancellation of legendary Pakistani artiste Ghulam Ali’s concert two weeks ago following strong opposition by Shiv Sena. Thereafter, Shiv Sena activists last week smeared black paint on columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni for organising the launch of former Pakistan minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book.
Interestingly, Sena's move to throw black ink on Kulkarni was sharply criticised by the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis who said such acts of violence would have international ramifications and tarnish the image of India.