Dharamsala: The Ranji Trophy match between Himachal Pradesh and Goa was on Sunday cancelled after the Congress-led state government took charge of the Cricket Association, which was controlled by opposition BJP MP Anurag Thakur, in a midnight coup here.
The cancellation of the four-day match, which was scheduled to start on Sunday, was confirmed by HPCA's PRO Sanjay Sharma. Earlier, in a late night operation, the Kangra district administration took over the HPCA stadium as well as 'The Pavillion' hotel here.
When contacted, Thakur, son of former Chief Minister P K Dhumal, said the cancellation of HPCA land leases would be challenged in court. "The Chief Minister must know that the judiciary in this country is fiercely independent and will be approached for relief for this - illegal and politically motivated action.
People of the state are watching every vindictive action of the government," he said.
District Sports Officer Mahender Pratap Bharadiya has been given charge of the stadium for the time being. HPCA spokesperson Sanjay Sharma, who reached the spot after the official had entered the stadium, opposed the authorities by saying that the cricket body was not informed about the action on time. He also refused to receive the copy of takeover orders.
The authorities told the HPCA official that no activity could be undertaken in the stadium without permission.
Later the authorities also took over 'The Pavilion' hotel, and another HPCA stadium at Nadaun in adjoining Hamirpur district, which Thakur's constituency. Meanwhile, Sanjay Sharma flayed the state government for its decision to take over the stadium.
"This like some emergency has been imposed in the state.
The case is still pending in High Court but state government seems to be in some hurry. At least authorities should have waited till morning," said Sharma.
Dharamsala Cricket stadium was built in 2003, 'The Pavilion' was built in 2011-12 by the HPCA under Thakur during the tenure of the earlier BJP governments. According to reports, the land for the resort was allotted to the HPCA for building "residential facilities for sportsmen".
Sources said that the midnight operation was conducted to avoid confrontation with the HPCA members and supporters. The Cabinet decided to take back and cancel the lease made in favour of the HPCA at Luhnu in Bilaspur, Nadaun in Hamirpur, Gumma in Shimla and Lalpani in Shimla.
The Vigilance Bureau has already registered two cases against HPCA. The Registrar Cooperative Societies has also issued a show-cause notice to the HPCA for converting itself from a society into a company.