JHU calls on cricketers to boycott IPL

Friday, 29 March 2013 03:52 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Uditha Jayasinghe

Sri Lanka’s nationalist parties have appealed to Sri Lankan cricketers to boycott playing in south India here on Thursday as tensions bubbled between Colombo and Tamil Nadu. Representatives of the National Buddhist Council and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), which is part of the ruling coalition, handed over a petition to Sri Lanka’s cricket governing body appealing for the boycott.

“Politicians in Tamil Nadu have banned Sri Lankan cricketers from travelling there to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL). We value our players and if they are injured then that would be a huge loss to our country. Therefore we are asking our players to not endanger their lives in travelling to India. We are asking them to think of their safety and dignity rather than the money they can earn,” National Buddhist Council Chairman Rajawatte Wappa Thero told media during the petition handover.         

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on Wednesday banned cricketers playing for the IPL to participate in matches staged in Tamil Nadu but made no decisions regarding the lucrative IPL as a whole. The decision was taken based on advice from Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Ministry as well as recent media reports of attacks on Sri Lankans travelling to Tamil Nadu, the statement said.

Sri Lanka Cricket has also consulted with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on player safety. In response the BCCI on Tuesday decided that the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 matches in Chennai will not feature any Sri Lankan cricketers or match officials.

The call was motivated by growing political tensions, stemming from the treatment of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka. Over the weekend two Buddhist monks were attacked in Tamil Nadu along with 16 tourists amid heightened tension with Colombo.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh insisted that the appearance of Sri Lankan cricketers in Chennai would escalate already “surcharged” tensions and called for them not to be allowed into the State.

“In such a hostile and tense environment, we apprehend that the participation of Sri Lankan players in the IPL tournament, with many games to be played in Chennai, will aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere and further offend the sentiments of the people,” her letter stated unequivocally.

Earlier this month the DMK, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu and a key ally of the federal government, pulled out of the ruling coalition at the centre asking for sterner measures to redress alleged atrocities towards Tamils in Sri Lanka.