An under-15 cricket team from Sri Lanka that arrived in Chennai, India on Sunday to participate in a private tournament was sent back the following day (August 4) reportedly owing to security concerns, following instructions from the Tamil Nadu police.
The 16-member team that was to play the JM Haroon tournament organised by the Cricket Federation of India from August 4 to 7 were asked to leave their hotel even before they could report to the tournament organisers.
"Teams from Malaysia [and] Sri Lanka were invited for the event and they arrived in Chennai yesterday (Sunday). But, the police got in touch with the management of the hotel, where the Sri Lankan team was staying, and informed them that it won’t be possible to provide security, and hence they were put on the next flight back to Colombo," JM Haroon, head of the tournament organising committee, confirmed to Wisden India.
"We gave notice to the police almost a month back that the Sri Lankan boys will be coming. In fact, three-four days back, the police asked us about their arrival details, but now they’ve been asked to leave. We have explained to them the reasons for the decision.
"It’s too early to comment if they will be invited for the next tournament, but it’s unfortunate because our boys have gone to Sri Lanka before and we’ve had wonderful hospitality."
The move is seen as a consequence of an article critical of J Jayalalithaa, the Tamil Nadu chief minister, on a Sri Lankan government website.
Sri Lanka’s defence ministry has since apologised for the article, which had an accompanying graphic of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and it was taken down.
According to local media reports, an official at the Nehru Stadium, the venue for the tournament, was suspended for giving approval for the match without prior permission.
This isn’t the first time Sri Lankan sportspersons have felt the wrath of the authorities in Tamil Nadu.
In 2013, the state government sought a ban on Sri Lankan cricketers in the Indian Premier League in protest against the treatment of ethnic Tamils in that country. Given the security concerns, the IPL governing council asked franchises that year not to field Sri Lankans in the matches in Chennai.
In 2012, a football team that arrived to play a friendly was also sent back when political tensions between the two counties escalated after a number of Indian fishermen were arrested for straying into Sri Lankan waters.
This article is courtesy of our media partners Wisden India
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