TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
POLITICS and sport collided for the second time in less than a week on SA’s tour of India on Monday when Aleem Dar was taken off the umpiring panel for the last two matches of the one-day series.
Dar, who is among the most respected umpires in the game, stood in the first three matches and was due to complete the series.
But the International Cricket Council (ICC) said they decided to stand him down him after a mob invaded the offices of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in Mumbai and, an ICC statement said, “threatened to prevent the umpire from standing in the fifth ODI (in Mumbai) on Sunday”.
The group who stormed the BCCI offices reportedly consisted of members of the Shiv Sena, a far-right Hindu sect opposed to India strengthening ties with Pakistan.
Dar is Pakistani, while BCCI president Shashank Manohar and his Pakistan Cricket Board counterpart, Shahryar Khan, were due to meet in the BCCI offices on Monday to discuss a series between India Pakistan planned for December. The meeting was moved to Delhi on Tuesday.
“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,” an ICC spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Last week, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, a group campaigning for affirmative action in favour of the Patidar caste, threatened to disrupt Sunday’s third ODI in Rajkot, claiming officials had given thousands of tickets to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The match went ahead without noticeable incident but protestors in Rajkot were detained by police and held overnight. Internet access inside the stadium was limited, apparently by match organisers to prevent communication between potential demonstrators.
On Monday the group’s leader, Hardik Patel, was arrested twice – once on charges of sedition for allegedly calling for police to be killed and then, after being let out on bail, for what police termed “insulting the national flag” by allowing it to touch his feet as he clambered on top of a car on Sunday.