NEW DELHI/SHIMLA: A day after India-Pakistan T-20 World Cup match venue was shifted from Dharamsala to Kolkata, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today said the state government had never refused to provide security for the match and it was ICC's decision to shift the venue.
He accused BJP leader and BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur of politicising the issue and said he himself was an ardent sports lover and had nothing personal against any sports organisation.
"The state government had never refused to provide security for the India-Pakistan cricket match at Dharamsala and the decision to shift the venue to Kolkata was that of the International Cricket Council (ICC). The government had at no point expressed its inability to provide security for the match. It had conveyed this to the Ministry of Home Affairs as well," Singh said in a statement.
Hitting out at Thakur, the Chief Minister said "Instead of honouring the sentiments of the people of the state, Anurag Thakur was playing blame game which showed that money was more important for HPCA than the sentiments of the families of the martyrs."
He said he had nothing personal against any sports or sports organisation and T20 cricket matches between other countries at Dharamsala and the state government welcomed it.
Singh said, however, that the ex-servicemen League, family members of martyrs of Kargil war as well as those of the Pathankot attack were strongly opposed to the Indo-Pak match at Dharamsala and the state government had great respect for their sentiments.
"The state government had not shirked away from its duty and responsibility of maintaining peace, tranquillity and law and order at any point," he said, adding that he had even advised the BCCI Secretary to approach family members of martyrs and ex-servicemen league and seek their support so that a right environment could be created without hurting the feelings of the soldiers and their families.
Singh noted that senior BJP leaders, including Shanta Kumar were also opposed to holding of the match at Dharamsala and Kumar had even conveyed his resentment in writing to him and the Prime Minister.