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Tribes make peace with cricket

india Updated: Jan 31, 2011 00:12 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times
Rahul Karmakar

Unlike in the rest of the country, cricket isn't religion in large swathes of soccer-crazy Northeast India. But that did not prevent the security forces stationed here from trying to use cricket to broker peace between the warring tribes of Garos in Meghalaya and Rabhas in Assam.

On Sunday, teams drawn from the two tribes battled it out on a semblance of a cricket field at Mendipathar in Meghalaya's East Garo Hills district, on the Assam-Meghalaya border.

Mendipathar was the epicentre of the ethnic clashes between Garos and Rabhas over exactly where the border between the two states lay, that started on Christmas Day last year, killing at least 12 people and displacing 35,000.

"Cricket generates passion in India, and we thought it could also work as therapy to heal the wounds left behind by the clashes," Border Security Force DIG Gajendra Singh Chaudhry told HT from Mendipathar.

"These two tribes have earlier always lived side by side in harmony. We chose Martyr Day for the match to add a touch of Gandhiism to pajama cricket."

The BSF took cue from Aamir Khan's Lagaan to organise the Ten10 cricket match between the teams, comprising a mix of Garo and Rabha players. Cultural troupes from the two tribes danced it out, somewhat like cheerleaders.