India vs Sri Lanka: Planes with protest banners fly over World Cup game

Updated on May 29, 2020 06:39 PM IST

At separate intervals during the India-Sri Lanka match on Saturday, a light propeller aircraft flew directly over the ground in Headingley carrying on its tail-banner a politically charged message.

A light aircraft tows a banner with political charged message.(AFP)
A light aircraft tows a banner with political charged message.(AFP)

At three separate intervals during the India-Sri Lanka match on Saturday, a light propeller aircraft flew directly over the ground in Headingley carrying on its tail-banner different messages of protest—the first two occasions pertaining to Kashmir. The first of those Cessna 182P planes hummed over the fielding Indians at 10:45am local time, the appended message reading: “Justice for Kashmir.” About 45 minutes later, the second one flew carrying a banner: “India stop genocide & free Kashmir.”

The politically-charged campaigning occurred again when India’s openers were busy making short work of Sri Lanka’s total. This time, the Cessna made four or five loops, and the banner read: “Help end mob lynchings in India”.

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Immediately after the first incident—which caused heavy booing in the predominantly Indian crowd in the stands—ICC contacted the West Yorkshire Police (under whose jurisdiction the city of Leeds falls) and asked them to look into the matter. But when the act was repeated shortly after, the tournament organisers put out a statement criticising the first two incidents.

“We are incredibly disappointed this has happened again. We do not condone any sort of political messages at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup,” the ICC statement began. “Throughout the tournament we have worked with local police forces around the country to prevent this type of protest occurring. After the previous incident we were assured by West Yorkshire Police there would not be repeat of this issue, so we are very dissatisfied it has happened again.”

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This wasn’t the first time in the tournament where a game at Leeds was used as a platform for political activism. During the Afghanistan-Pakistan match here on June 29, fans of both teams clashed with reports of arrests both inside and outside the stadium in Headingley. Media reports said the trouble started when a plane towing the message ‘Justice for Balochistan’ flew over the venue.

Between the second and the third protest in the skies, however, yet another banner-bearing aircraft hovered about Headingley. But this one served a gentler purpose. It read: “Tamara will you marry me? Love Sam”.

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