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Diplomatic row over death during football match?

delhi Updated: Jun 02, 2011 23:49 IST
Charu Sudan Kasturi

An Indian student’s death during a football match at Punjab’s Lovely Professional University (LPU) after he was allegedly kicked with spiked shoes by Sudanese and Tanzanian students is threatening to spiral into a diplomatic hot potato.

The home ministry has asked the Punjab government for details of action taken in the incident end-April that has inflamed passions in Mizoram, the home state of 22-year-old civil engineering student Johny F Lalhmangaih Zuala.

The HRD ministry is also likely to write to the Punjab government.

Zuala had scored the only goal in a match between a Mizo students team and a team of Sudanese students. With the Mizo team leading the Sudan Eagles 1-0 and a few minutes left in the match, the Sudanese team apparently felt Zuala was indulging in time-wasting tactics, and attacked him. Zuala died in hospital later.

“It is a tricky situation for us. The law must take its course and we believe that those responsible for the student’s death must be punished. But at the same time, we have to be careful not to upset diplomatic sensitivities,” a senior Indian official said.

The Sudanese Ambassador to India Khidir Haroun Ahmed has expressed regrets for the death, and sent his condolences to Zuala’s family. But the Mizoram government is not satisfied and wants compensation for the victim’s family either from the Centre or from Sudan, sources said. The Mizoram home minister has written to the Centre conveying the anger and hurt in the state, sources said.

Three students — two from Sudan and one from Tanzania — are currently under custody, and are believed by the police to have led the kicking that killed Zuala. Nine other students who allegedly participated in the assault on Zuala are now out on bail. All these students were studying at LPU, Punjab’s first private university, and have been suspended by the varsity after the incident.