NEW DELHI: At a time when Indian soldiers, under fire on the Western border, were fighting back to silence the Pakistan Army’s heavy artillery, a unit of the Army ironically decided to go to China to play a polo match against Pakistan’s polo team.
A contingent of the Jaipur-based 61 Cavalry unit travelled with horses and uniforms to Tianjin, China, on October 7 to participate in the qualifying match for the Polo World Cup, scheduled to be held in March 2015 in Chile. Besides playing the final match against Pakistan on October 11, the Indian Army contingent also played two practice matches against its hostile neighbour on October 8 and 9 on the Metropolitan Polo Club grounds. Ultimately, India and Pakistan participated in the Zone ‘D’ playoffs and Pakistan won to qualify for the World Cup.
The Indian team comprised Lt Col Ravi Rathore (61 Cav), Maj Vishal Chauhan (61 Cav), Simran Shergill, Abhimanyu Singh, Naveen Singh, Kuldeep Singh and team manager Lokendra Singh.
According to an Army official, when the Indian Army contingent was playing the match against Pakistan, the troops of both the countries were trading heavy fire along the International Border in the Jammu region and some other areas along the Line of Control.
The Army fraternity has criticised the 61 Cavalry’s move to take part in a polo game against Pakistan at a time when relations between both countries were tense, militarily and diplomatically. “I consider this as a show of utmost disregard towards our fellow soldiers who are battling hard on the border under hostile conditions,” said a senior Army officer.
Meanwhile, the Army headquarters claimed that the contingent had gone after obtaining necessary permission from authorities. “Taking part in such games has always been a tradition. It is not for the first time they have gone to play against Pakistan at a neutral venue,” an officer said.