Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has denied having said that his party would stop Australian cricketers from playing Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in Mumbai.
Some newspapers and channels had reported on Tuesday that Thackeray had said he would not allow Australian cricketers to play IPL matches because Indian were being attacks in Australia.
However, in a signed statement issued late on Tuesday night, Thackeray said that the media was putting words in his mouth even when he had said nothing.
“No one seems to have any sense of patriotism and pride left,” the statement said. “We took the stand against Australian players because Indians were being attacked in Australia. But if no one is bothered, why should Shiv Sainiks alone suffer?”
Thackeray said Indians living in Australia had requested the Sena to lift the ban as it may affect them.
Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar had met Thackeray a couple of weeks ago at the insistence of Board of Control for Cricket in India president Shashank Manohar.
The BCCI wanted Pawar to ensure the Sena withdraws its protest against Australian players. Manohar had told journalists after the Thackeray-Pawar meeting that the Sena chief would announce his decision in a few days.
Eighty-four-year-old Thackeray, however, was adamant on his stand against players from Pakistan. “We will not allow Pakistani players to play on Indian soil under any circumstances,” said Thackeray. “Home Minister P Chidambaram has invited Kashmiris from Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir to India, even when another minister Gulam Nabi Azad has said this would lead to escalation of problems. Such acts could encourage infiltration.”
Thackeray said everyone was bent on spoiling the country. “Go ahead and allow Australians, Pakistani cricketers, Pak-trained terrorists, infiltrators and sit and conduct peace talks with them,” he said. “We won’t say a word.”