New Delhi:Services were on Tuesday banned from this year's Ranji Trophy cricket season for skipping a match against Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar citing security reasons, a decision which came soon after the state body's angry outburst against the last-minute pullout.
Services forfeited the Plate Division match at the Sher-E-Kashmir stadium, hosting a Ranji game after a gap of five years, leaving the J&K Cricket Association chief Farooq Abdullah livid.
Abdullah threatened to take up the matter with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, saying Services had negated the government of India's positive assessment of the state's security situation.
Aware of the sensitivity of the matter, the BCCI promptly disqualified Services from this year's Ranji Trophy and said further action would be decided at its next working committee meeting.
"The Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) cricket team was scheduled to play a Ranji Trophy game against Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) at Srinagar from November 3 to November 6 2009.
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"However, the SSCB forfeited the match, having expressed its inability to send its cricket team to Srinagar. The SSCB has therefore been disqualified from participating in the 2009-10 edition of the Ranji Trophy, in accordance with the rules of the BCCI pertaining to Domestic Tournaments," BCCI secretary N Srinivasan said in a statement.
"A decision on any further action against the SSCB will be taken by the BCCI's Working Committee," the BCCI statement read.
Jammu and Kashmir players, officials and Abdullah were at the ground for the match but the Services team was nowhere to be seen. The forfeiture gave J&K four points and they will now take on Haryana at the same venue from November 10 to 13.
Angry at the no show, Abdullah, who is also Union Minister for new and renewable energy, lambasted the Services team.
"Services have negated what the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and the Home Minister have said, that Kashmir is normal. We have also had ambassadors coming here. This shows that some vested interests don't want Kashmir to normalise," Abdullah fumed.
"I will take this up with the government of India. We were all waiting for the Services. We were here to welcome them. It looks very bad that of all teams, Services decided not to come. It shows a very bad image of India," he told reporters here.
"What is the government of India doing?" he thundered. Abdullah said he would take up the matter at the next cabinet meeting and also find out who advised the Services against coming here.
"They have been advised not to come. Now, we will have to find out, who has advised them not to come. This incident has got a much larger picture. It is about, is Kashmir normal or not?"
"Services is saying Kashmir is not normal. To hell with them for that...they want us to burn all the time so that they can remain our masters," a livid Abdullah said.
"It was only few days ago, Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi addressed people in Anantnag without bullet-proof glass which was a positive signal to all that situation in Kashmir is normal," he added.
"The wicket, outfield, pavilion and other faculties are world class. The turf and outfield has been approved by BCCI officials who had been visiting here for reviewing progress of work," he said.
"Since the security forces were removed from the stadium two years ago, the stadium was under renovation. For checking the newly laid turf ahead of Ranji trophy match, the JKCA last month allowed matches of school national tournament on it. The wicket played well and helped both batsmen as well as bowlers," he added.
In a scathing attack against the Services team, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said "Army has made tall claims about its successes in the state against the militant groups. The incident clearly shows the double-standards of the Armed forces operating here."
Omar said such kind of behaviour was unacceptable especially in the wake of the volatile security situation in the state.
The Chief Minister said that he would take up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram as such an act has negated the government of India's positive assessment of the state's security situation.
"I will be speaking to Centre on the issue. Such an act is clearly an indication that some people don't want normalcy in the state. When the team of Armed Forces refuses to play a match citing security concerns, what message will it send across," he said.
The JKCA had been in the news just a few weeks ago when an under-22 player Pervez Rasool was detained in Bangalore Chinnasawmy stadium after bomb detectors allegedly pointed towards his kit bag.
He was released after being questioned by the police and JKCA had sought an apology from the Karnataka State Cricket Association for the incident.