Maj Vijay Singh Mankotia categorically said it would be a "do or die battle" and ex-servicemen would not let the match happen at a venue © Getty Images
Maj Vijay Singh Mankotia categorically said it would be a “do or die battle” and ex-servicemen would not let the match happen at a venue © Getty Images

Shimla: Uncertainty refused to die down over the fate of the high-profile IndoPak game in the World Twenty20 as the ex-servicemen league’s state chief on Thursday vehemently protested against hosting of the game in Dharamsala, saying the “matter is non-negotiable”. “The terror and T20 cannot go together and there can be no give and take on this issue as it involves the sentiments of the people who are deeply hurt with terrorists attack on Pathankot airbase in which two Himachal soldiers were killed,” ex-servicemen league’s state chief Maj Vijay Singh Mankotia (retd) told reporters. Pakistan will not participate in ICC World T20 2016 unless guaranteed foolproof security, says Shahryar Khan

Mankotia, a former Congress minister and now chairman of the Himachal State Tourism Development Board, categorically said it would be a “do or die battle” and ex-servicemen would not let the match happen at a venue which is a few meters from the Shaheed Samarak. Mankotia’s comments come a day after Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh advised BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur to sort out the issue of holding the March 19 game with families of martyrs and ex-servicemen.

Meanwhile, Thakur said he was hopeful of the Himachal Pradesh government giving the go ahead for the match following a meeting with the chief minister. Asking the BCCI to either cancel the match or change the venue, Mankotia said the ex-servicemen league would meet on March 10 to chalk out the future course of action. Singh had earlier expressed inability to provide security for the marquee clash in the wake of objections raised by the Kangra-based families of martyrs and ex-servicemen, who consider hosting Pakistan as an “insult” to the soldiers who lost their lives in Pathankot airbase terror attack in January. India vs Pakistan, ICC World T20 2016: Terrorism and cricket cannot go together, says Vijai Singh Mantokia

Mankotia termed “ridiculous” the claims of Thakur that sports were being given political colour. “Politics is there in BCCI. That is why Justice Lodha Committee has said that the BCCI should be taken out of the clutches of politics and politicians,” he added. “Moreover it is not the question of only spectators coming to watch the match. The BCCI is more worried about the betting and speculative market over cricket where crores of rupees have been pumped in. Dharamshala stadium has a capacity of over 22000 and tickets are being sold in black. It is all about money and nothing else,” he said.

He said the BCCI had been sending emissaries to the families of martyrs and it was actually an insult to them when they were offered money out of income from the match. “The BCCI is playing with the sentiments of the families of the martyrs and ex-servicemen,” he said. Mankotia said there was no politics over the issue as even the BJP leaders, including veteran leader and MP from Kangra, Shanta Kumar has expressed reservations over hosting of the match. India vs Pakistan, ICC World T20 2016 match at Dharamsala will be played as per schedule: Anurag Thakur

Mankotia said, “Thousands of people would come to Dharamshala for the match, including those from Pakistan. We have got intelligence information that they are coming via Kashmir route. Who would ensure that they are not agents of the ISI or other such agencies? And in any case, the Pakistan flags would be hoisted high during the match and there would be slogans shouting from both sides. All this would happen just few metres from the war memorial in Dharamshala and who would be responsible if tension mounts and the situations takes an ugly turn.” The chief minister said they don’t wish to stop the match but also pointed out that “it is a question of sentiments of ex-servicemen and families of martyrs and people in general and the government cannot resort to use of force against them”.