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Razzaq U-turn finger at SRK

Mumbai, Feb. 4: Shah Rukh Khan’s IPL team had issued a letter of invitation to Abdul Razzaq but chose not to pursue him at the auction, a top cricket official claimed today, questioning the actor’s public stand against the mass rejection of Pakistani players by franchisees.

“He (Shah Rukh) is crying for the Pakistanis from the rooftops now. Then why did he not pick up Razzaq despite giving him a letter to the effect?” the senior Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Indian Premier League official said. He said the Kolkata Knight Riders had sent the letter to Razzaq in November.

“The purpose was to book Razzaq somehow before others got to him. By the time the visa came, the franchisees had been intimated by some IPL officials about the problems of taking in Pakistanis,” the official said.

“Then KKR suddenly changed its mind, insisted that Razzaq get on the auction list and promised they would try to pick him up. They did not do that; so why is SRK now saying that Pakistani players should not have been treated that way? He did not pick them up when he could have.”

Shah Rukh’s later expression of concern at the auction’s wholesale rebuff to the Pakistanis has brought a Shiv Sena threat to block the release of his film My Name Is Khan unless he apologises. Shah Rukh has been conciliatory but has not apologised.

“Most distributors and exhibitors are wary of MNIK’s February 12 release — the release date may be postponed,” said Manoj Desai, owner of G-7, a well-known Mumbai multiplex.

With the situation turning tense and SRK due to arrive here from Europe on Saturday, Mumbai police have promised security at theatres that release the film on February 12.

But the waters got muddied some more when the Bandra Muslim Association, an influential group of maulanas, political leaders and local Muslim youth, held a news conference today saying they would protect SRK’s home from Shiv Sainiks by physically taking them on. “The government should take stern action and arrest (Sena executive president) Uddhav Thackeray or we will come out on the streets,” association chief Mohammed Ghosi said.

Amar sting

Amar Singh today wondered why the media had created so much “hype” over SRK but not the average north Indian who remained vulnerable, day after day, to the wrath of the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

“All citizens are equal. A thelawallah from Deoria or Azamgarh (in eastern UP) is the same as Shah Rukh,” the expelled Samajwadi Party leader, who has a patchy relation with SRK, said. He said Bollywood’s failure to rally round the actor was of a piece with its past record.

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