TN government toughens stand against Lankan players in IPL

CHENNAI: The participation of Sri Lankan players in the forthcoming edition of the Premier League has taken another hit. The chief minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stating that no Sri Lankan player or match official will be allowed to operate in Chennai due to the anti-Lanka sentiments prevalent in the state following reports of ghastly war crimes against the island nation’s Tamil population.

Jayalalithaa said in a letter to the prime minister: "In view of the popular antipathy and anger in Tamil Nadu against the actions of the government of Sri Lanka, the government of Tamil Nadu is of the view that IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu."

Jayalalithaa said the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) may be advised by the central government to prevail upon Indian Premier League organisers to not allow any Sri Lankans to take part in the tournament in Tamil Nadu.

"The government of Tamil Nadu will permit IPL matches to be held in Tamil Nadu, only if the organisers provide an undertaking that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff would participate in these matches," Jayalalithaa said.

Referring to the human rights violations by the Sri Lankan government against the Tamils and the continued attacks on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, she said: "All political parties in Tamil Nadu have repeatedly voiced their grave concern regarding these issues. The atmosphere is, therefore, already surcharged with a groundswell of popular public opinion against the Sri Lankan government."

She said the state government apprehended that the participation of Sri Lankans in the IPL tournament, with many games to be played in Chennai, would aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere and further offend the sentiments of the people.

Citing human rights abuses by Colombo, Jayalalithaa had said last month that Tamil Nadu would not host the 20th Asian Athletics Championship in July in which Sri Lanka will take part.

"The state will not conduct the championship and it cannot be held in Tamil Nadu. The general secretary of the Asian Athletics Association will be asked by the state to hold the event somewhere else," she said.

As many as 13 Sri Lankans are slated to play for eight of the nine IPL teams this year. The most prominent of them are Kumar Sangakkara, captain of the Hyderabad Sunrisers, Mahela Jayawardene, captain of the Delhi Daredevils, and Lasith Malinga, one of Mumbai Indians’ key players.

In February, Jayalalithaa had cancelled the Asian Athletics Championships saying Lankan players would not be allowed in the state.

While Jayalalithaa’s stance had been known for a while, the BCCI has been adamant that games in Chennai would go as per plan despite some teams reportedly demanding that the city be dropped as a tournament venue this year.

Those teams, which stand to lose from the absence of their Sri Lankan recruits, cited the example of Hyderabad in 2010 which could not stage IPL games due to political protests and violence.

The BCCI chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty said on Sunday: "As of now the matches will be held in Chennai. We have no plans to shift them out.”

IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said on March 24 that the governing council was happy with the security situation in Chennai. "As of now the matches are not being moved out. But we are monitoring the situation," he had said.

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