Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has announced a ban on Australian cricketers from playing in Mumbai or in the state to protest against the attacks on Indians in Australia.
“Aussie cricketers cannot set foot on the soil of Maharashtra till the racial attacks against Indians in Australia are stopped. There will be no cricket matches in Mumbai or Maharashtra,” he said in an article published in the party mouthpiece Saamna on Wednesday.
And Sainiks are backing their leader. Sena MP and party spokesperson Sanjay Raut said: “When Balasaheb calls for a ban, there’s no discussion on it. His word is final… we shall enforce it completely. He is a true patriot. The government of India should have taken this stand.”
Raut did not disclose how the Sena will enforce the ban.
Blasting Indian cricketers, the Sena chief said they “do not have any self-respect and lacked patriotism” and condemned the way “they are showing sportsmanship with Australia”.
The Sena announcement has cast a shadow on the India-Australia one-day international cricket matches to be held in the country in September and the Indian Premier League matches to be played in March-April — Australian players are on most IPL teams. The ban might affect the Champions League T20 matches to be held later this year, in which South Australia’s West End Redbacks team will participate.
In December 2008, the Sena had announced a ban on Pakistani cricketers from playing in Maharashtra. “Our Sainiks didn’t allow Pakistani players to play in India to protest against the 26/11 attacks and firing in Kashmir,” Thackeray said.