India's Armed Forces Refuse To Play In Kashmir

3 November 2009

New Delhi: Cricket chiefs in Indian Kashmir were left fuming on Tuesday after India's armed forces refused to field a team in a first-class match in the separatist-riven region. The Jammu and Kashmir team received a walk-over when their opponents Services - representing the Indian armed forces - failed to turn up for a Ranji Trophy match in Srinagar due to start on Tuesday. The state's former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who also heads the region's cricket association, said the withdrawal of the Services team sent the wrong signal at a time when violence in Kashmir is on the wane. 'The Services have negated what the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and the Home Minister have said, that Kashmir is normal,' a fuming Abdullah was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India (PTI). 'We were all waiting for the Services. We were here to welcome them. It looks very bad that, of all teams, Services decided not to come.' He said the incident created a bad image of India. 'They have been advised not to come. Now, we will have to find out, who has advised them not to come. This incident has got a much larger picture. It is about: is Kashmir normal or not? 'Services is saying Kashmir is not normal. To hell with them for that...they want us to burn all the time so that they can remain our masters. 'What is the government of India doing? I will take this up with them,' said Abdullah. A Services team official, J.P. Pandey, was quoted by PTI as saying that the team was ordered not to travel to Srinagar. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said the Services team had been banned from the rest of the tournament for refusing to play. 'The Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) forfeited the match, having expressed its inability to send its cricket team to Srinagar,' BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan said in a statement. 'The SSCB has therefore been disqualified from participating in the 2009-10 edition of the Ranji Trophy, in accordance with the rules of the BCCI pertaining to domestic tournaments. 'A decision on any further action against the SSCB will be taken by the BCCI's working committee,' the statement added. Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir has been in the grip of an insurgency against New Delhi's rule since 1989, leaving more than 47,000 people dead by official count. But the levels of violence fell sharply after India and Pakistan, who both claim sovereignty over Kashmir, launched a stop-start peace process in 2004. Teams from Jammu and Kashmir regularly take part in India's domestic cricket.