It is completely wrong to relate India-Pak cricket series to 26/11 terror strike: Shinde {Update-Shinde)

New Delhi, Nov. 8 (ANI): Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Thursday said establishing a link between next month's cricket series between India and Pakistan and the terror strike by armed Pakistanis on November 26, 2008 was completely wrong and unacceptable.

Speaking to media persons in New Delhi, Shinde warned right-wing groups like the Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to stop issuing frequent threats to disrupt the forthcoming cricket series, adding that the Government of India is not all worried or concerned by such warnings and is fully capable of providing top-of-line security for cricket players of the two countries.

"Either Bal Thackeray or anyone else, we are not worried about such threats, the security arrangements will be in place. I have said this earlier, our view in the exchange of sports and cultural programmes should be completely different. People from any part of the world can come and play to improve the relations. Some people are trying to relate this series to 26/11. This is completely wrong," he said.

Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had earlier asked his party activists 'not to permit' the forthcoming matches between India and Pakistan anywhere in the country.

The Shiv Sena chief has in his party mouthpiece 'Saamna' criticized Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde for his statement 'to forget the past' and play cricket with Pakistan.

"Mr. Shinde, why are you taking this immature step of playing cricket with Pakistan? How can you say that we should forget the past? How and why should we forget the past?" he asked, while referring to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and other attacks in different parts of the country.

Shinde had earlier on Friday welcomed Pakistani team's visit to India, saying sportsmanship should be maintained and that one must not ponder over what happened in the past.

Shinde said that any player from anywhere could come and play in India.

"Yesterday, I clarified that any player from anywhere, they can come to India and play here. We must have friendly relations. Once what happened in the past that should not be all the time we should repeat it. We must maintain the sportsmanship and a sport like cricket is certainly welcome," said Shinde.

"It should be free from politics. Whether it is sports or cultural affairs or whether it is singing or dancing, all these activities should be restricted to those activities only," he added.

Thackeray had earlier termed the BCCI's invitation to Pakistan's cricket team as a matter of 'national shame'.

"The Pakistan team will be playing matches at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru. At one point or the other, Pak terrorists have attacked these cities. The feet of Pakistani players won't touch Maharashtra but their tour of these cities is a matter of national shame," The Express Tribune quoted Thackeray, as telling a news channel.

He also accused the BCCI of 'betraying the country for sake of money' and Indian cricketers of being part of that betrayal.

Thackeray considers it an insult to those who had lost their lives in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

The BCCI earlier announced that it had secured the government's clearance to host Pakistan for a short tour later this year.

The BCCI has invited Pakistan to play three one-dayers and two Twenty20 matches in December-January, the first bilateral contests between the arch-rivals in five years.

Meanwhile, Shinde also spoke Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik's proposed visit to India.

"The tentative dates are November 22 or 23. We are still discussing the final dates. We are yet to give our final response to them. After we do that, they will finalise and then make his visit," he said. (ANI)