Pakistani players in Hockey India League to fly back home

Faridabad, Jan. 15 (ANI): Tension along the Line of Control (LoC) has emerged as a barrier for the sporting ties between the two Asian neighbours as all nine Pakistani players, who were scheduled to participate in the Hockey India League (HIL) tournament, will now fly back.

The Hockey India decided to play safe and send all the Pakistani players back as provoking ceasefire violations and killing of Indian jawans have spread anger among the people against Islamabad.

"Hockey India and Pakistan Hockey Federation have mutually decided to send them back due to the extraordinary situation. We don't want to make them play with mental stress, which may affect their performance while playing for their respective teams. All franchises are allowed to exercise their right for replacement in regard to nine players form Pakistan from the reserve pool of players," said Narendra Batra, General Secretary, Hockey India.

"There have been speculations that why Hockey India or Hockey India League is not coming forward and making any statement on the issue that has been coming up in public domain. But, the event (HIL) is sanctioned by the International Hockey League, and players from various international federations participating in it. So, we have certain responsibilities towards everyone," he added.

Batra further said that Hockey India has been talking to all the five franchises, Pakistan Hockey Federation and International Hockey Federation over the last few days to find out ways to protect everyone's interest and glory of the game in amicable manner.

"And today we mutually agreed on this point to send them back," he added.

Batra, however, mentioned that all the Pakistani players would be paid their contract money by Hockey India.

The decision in this regard comes in the wake of aggressive protests by the Shiv Sena.

Shiv Sena party workers staged a protest at Mumbai Hockey Association's stadium in Mumbai on Sunday against the participation of four Pakistani players in a scheduled practice session of 'Mumbai Magicians' team.

Tension between the two Asian neighbours has escalated ever since Indian jawan Lance Naik Hemraj Singh was beheaded in an attack by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control on January 8.

Pakistan has so far denied India's claim that its troops crossed the Line of Control to ambush a patrol party in the Mendhar sector in Poonch district. (ANI)

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