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All 9 Pakistan players to return from Hockey India League

CNN-IBN
Jan 15, 2013 at 09:58pm IST

Mumbai: The nine Pakistan players here to play in the Hockey India League (HIL) will play no further part in the inaugural season of the lucrative tournament and return home, Hockey India General Secretary Dr Narendra Batra confirmed on Tuesday, after protests against their participation in the wake of killing of Indian soldiers at the LOC.

"Hockey India and Pakistan Hockey Federation have made this decision due to the extraordinary situation and to protect the players.... all franchises [will] be allowed to exercise their right to replace players," Batra said putting an end to the speculation surrounding the participation of Pakistan players in the HIL.

Rashid Mehmood, Fareed Ahmed, Imran Butt and Mohammad Tauseeq (Mumbai Magicians), Sayeed Kashif Shah (Jaypee Punjab Warriors), Mohammed Rizwan Jr and Mohammed Rizwan Sr (Delhi Wave Riders) and Muhammed Irfan and Shafqat Rasool (Ranchi Rhinos) will all pack their bags and return to Pakistan.

Earlier, CNN-IBN learned that the decision on the future of the Pakistan players in the HIL has been left to the respective franchises, and that if they wish to replace the players due to the extraordinary circumstances they are free to do so. But now it has been learned that it is no longer an option available to the teams and all the nine players will leave.

The news came in the wake of strong anti-Pakistan protests in New Delhi and Mumbai following the killing of two Indian soldiers earlier this month. On Monday, anti-Pakistan protesters tried to disrupt the inaugural match of the HIL in New Delhi. A couple of Hindu Yuwak Sabha members, carrying placards, managed to invade the playing area but were immediately overpowered by the security guards. On Sunday, Shiv Sainiks and Hindu Yuwak Sabha members gathered outside Mumbai's Churchgate Stadium, where the Mumbai Magicians team was practising.

In his response to the situation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India will not tolerate such "barbaric" acts by Pakistan anymore. "After this barbaric act, there cannot be business as usual with Pakistan," Singh said. Asked about Pakistan being in denial mode, the PM said: "I hope Pakistan realises this".

Pakistan players were awarded visa at the eleventh hour to play in the HIL; however, sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said that the delay was due to procedural issues and not due to any change in the process for awarding Indian visas to Pakistani nationals.

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