Shiv Sena targets Australians in IPL

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Shiv Sena says it will try to stop Australians playing in the upcoming IPL season, as a protest against violent attacks on Indian students in Australia.

Updated: January 14, 2010 09:22 IST
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New Delhi:

A Hindu nationalist political party says it will try to stop Australians playing in the upcoming Indian Premier League season, as a protest against violent attacks on Indian students in Australia.

Bal Thackeray, leader of the Shiv Sena political party, said activists would target IPL games involving Australians in Mumbai.

The Shiv Sena will "not allow Australian cricketers to step on Mumbai's soil," the party newspaper Saamna quoted Thackeray as saying.

"Indian students are being beaten up, shot dead and burnt alive. Yet they (Indian cricketers) continue to display sportsmanship in matches between India and Australia. This is shameful."

Thackeray did not indicate how activists would target the IPL games.

In 1999, Shiv Sena activists dug up the cricket pitch at New Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla cricket ground to prevent an India-Pakistan match proceeding, as a protest against the Pakistan government's support to Islamic militant groups in India. The pitch was repaired and the test went ahead.

The Hindu fundamentalist party based in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, is known for its aggressive protests, with its leaders often rousing supporters to acts of violence. Two IPL venues, Mumbai and Nagpur, are in Maharashtra and are Shiv Sena strongholds.

There was no immediate reaction to the Shiv Sena's warning from Indian cricket authorities.

The Indian government last week urged Australia to ensure the safety of thousands of Indian students studying in Australian cities after a spate of attacks. A 21-year-old Indian-born, Australian resident was fatally stabbed in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, earlier this month.

The IPL is the world's most lucrative Twenty20 domestic league, with its top players getting salaries in excess of $1 million per season, attracting players from around the world.

Many Australian players had taken part in the first two seasons of the league, with 27 spread across the eight franchises last season. A further 11 Australian players will be up for auction next week, for inclusion ahead of the 2010 season beginning in March.

Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi was on the current roster of the Mumbai franchise.

The second season of the IPL had to be moved from India to South Africa due to heightened security threats in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the incapacity of the government to provide enough security as the season clashed with national elections.

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