The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sena threatens Kotla rerun

New Delhi, Oct. 24: The Shiv Sena has threatened to disrupt any India-Pakistan cricket match in Indian territory, reviving memories of its pitch-digging in 1999.

The threat was a reaction to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s latest peace proposals to Islamabad, including resumption of cricketing ties.

The workers of the Sena, a constituent of the NDA government at the Centre, said they are serious.

“Those who remember our pitch-digging on the night of January 5, 1999, at the Feroz Shah Kotla grounds (in Delhi) know what we mean,” the party’s north India chief Jai Bhagwan Goyal said today. The Sainiks, he added, “could go to any extent”.

Delhi snapped sporting ties with Pakistan in the wake of the Kargil war. Both nations, however, played each other in third countries.

Goyal dubbed the latest offer the Centre’s “dramabaji”. “What is the need for this great hurry'” he said.

“Pakistan has not handed over the 20 terrorists, including Dawood Ibrahim, to India, stopped training terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, not returned Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Heaven would not have fallen if we waited.”

If Islamabad were to accept all these three demands, the Sena would have no objection to Pakistan playing in India, he added.

Pakistan cannot be trusted because of its track record, he said.

“When we showed understanding, they back-stabbed. When we began bus service to Lahore, it ended in Kargil, the attack on Parliament and so many other attacks. Still, we are bending.”

“Indian people want to reply in the same language, not (with) Vajpayee’s peace initiatives,” Goyal said.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, too, is opposed to the peace proposals. Senior leader Praveen Togadia yesterday dubbed the move “an abject surrender to a terrorist country”, which would lead to a surge in terrorism.

He recalled Vajpayee extending a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan in April.

, saying “at that time, he had said it was his last offer of peace and India would close all its doors on any peace offer till Pakistan stopped cross-border terrorism. Then, from where has this new initiative cropped up'”

In a clear reference to the recent militant attack on Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s home, he said: “Will they (the Centre) wait for an attack on the Prime Minister’s residence before taking any firm step'”

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