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Flying 'political' banners during World Cup, Isn't it an act to hurt sentiments?

Same incident took place at the same venue on June 29 during Pakistan-Afghanistan match

Mrunmayi Sapatnekar
Updated: 08-07-2019 15:54 IST
Flying 'political' banners during World Cup, Isn't it an act to hurt sentiments?

Image Credit: Twitter(@cricketworldcup)

When good things take an ugly turn, nobody likes it. And similar things have happened during the ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales, not for the first time, but twice in less than 10 days. Banners reading "#Justice for Kashmir" and "India Stop Genocide & Free Kashmir" were flown over Headingley stadium during India's World Cup clash with Sri Lanka on Saturday.

The same incident took place at the same venue on June 29, during Pakistan-Afghanistan match when a banner was flown over the stadium that said 'Justice for Balochistan'. However, ICC has claimed that it does not tolerate any kind of political intervention in its functioning and is against supporting such kinds of political messages. The statement expressing disappointment has been already released by ICC after the incident.

But the question that comes to our minds after witnessing this incident is - how can this happen during an international sporting event in a country like the United Kingdom? Was there no adequate security arrangement? The ICC Cricket World Cup is an international event in true sense. Is the UK government inefficient to provide foolproof security to the venue of such a cricket match? How come out of nowhere an aircraft starts hovering over a stadium where the match is taking place? Were the radars not active at that point catching such banners with the aircraft? What exactly it is and who is doing it? Tons of questions have emerged now and no one has the answers for it. Who can deny the possibility of using such an aircraft for dropping bombs, payloads or objectionable materials in the playground? The authorities in the UK can not escape these questions.

Kashmir row

When it comes to Kashmir, both India and Pakistan are possessive about it and want to have the share. Both the countries have engaged in a lot of military clashes on the issue of Kashmir including four full-fledged wars in 1948, 1965 1971, and 1998. The violent military engagements are routine along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. The violent engagements are also taking place on a daily basis. Here both countries are armed with nuclear weapons and administer the areas of Kashmir under their administrative control. The relations between both the countries have become very sensitive after the Pulwama terrorist strike allegedly conducted by Pakistan sponsored terrorists followed by India's air strike on terrorists in Pakistan's Balakot. The issue is also pending in the United Nations since 1948 but so far there is no amicable solution in the sight. According to various reports over 100,000 people have lost life in India-Pakistan military crackdown over Kashmir since 1989.

And now this burning issue was allowed an international platform through a popular sporting event making everyone think about the ifs and buts. The failure of UK authorities on security grounds has not only raised questions on security arrangments for the stadium but also compromise with the sanctity of the cricket and integrity of the international regulatory body - ICC.

How security works during an international sports event

The sports authority thoroughly works with the local police of that particular country whenever an international sports event is taking place. In this case, ICC has claimed to have to work with the local police forces around the country wherever the matches are taking place to prevent any unwanted scenario. When brawls during the Pakistan-Afghanistan match took place, the West Yorkshire police assured no such repetition of the incidents but failed to do so as it happened again.

Therefore, the air space above Old Trafford in Manchester and Edgbaston in Birmingham have been declared as no-flying zones during the semi-finals that are going to take place on July 9 and July 11 respectively.

But everyone needs to get this fact clear that the flight that was carrying the banner was a private jet, which means either someone owns that jet or someone must have rented it out just for this purpose. But the question is, Who? Because of this an act by someone who has a handful of money to take up a private jet and fly above the stadium. However, a private jet does not require a huge runway as it can fly out of a smaller site. Therefore, it may possible that no airport authority or airlines were involved in this incident. There are several small airports in the UK available that are tailor-made for private jets. It's however, a matter of investigation that if any such private airport is available in the vicinity of the stadium. This is required to fix the responsibility.

Act to provoke communal harmony and nationalist feelings

Talking about the British media here, then it has always been under the skin of the immigrants and refugees. The racism faced by immigrants in the UK is something which is completely on the other level. Just to make it clear, here's an example, When Meghan Markle entered the Royal Family, the right-leaning press focused endless coverage on Meghan as a demanding "diva", circulated unfounded rumours about a feud with her sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge and described her decision not to give birth at a hospital 40 kilometres away from her home as a "snub".

Therefore, there is no doubt about the fact that this act would have hurt the nationalistic feelings of the Indian cricket team. Besides, the incident has also hurt the feelings of all the cricket fans on the planet. As the UK is a pluralistic society, the incident also has the potential to hurt the sentiments of Indians living in the UK which could come heavily on communal harmony in the host country in the long run. The nationalist and religious feelings of crores of cricket fans in India are also hurt due to this display. In short, the incident has put the communal harmony from the two warring Asian countries to the UK, at stake. Even Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has registered his disappointment on the incident with British High Commissioner to Islamabad. The West Yorkshire Police also launched a probe into the incident and three persons have been arrested.

The security forces in the UK have two responsibilities - firstly, to provide full proof security in all the remaining matches and secondly, ensure the violators are punished as per law. The Indian cricket agency - BCCI, should also pursue it in a sustained manner to restore the feeling of confidence among Indian players.

COUNTRY : United Kingdom