Bhubaneswar: Unfazed by protests from different quarters including a ruling BJD MP, the state government on Monday gave the nod to the Odisha Cricket Association for hosting the ICC Women's World Cup matches involving players from Pakistan at Cuttack.
"We will ensure proper security for the players from Pakistan and see to it the international event conducted smoothly at Cuttack," Director General of Police (DGP), Prakash Mishra told reporters after OCA functionaries held discussion with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here.
"It is not possible to debar Pakistani team as the tournament is being organised by ICC," Mishra added. Earlier, the DGP had a meeting with OCA functionaries. "Chief Minister has assured us that the government will make fullproof security arrangements for the teams including the one from Pakistan," said OCA President Ranjib Biswal, adding that he would like to appeal all to cooperate.
OCA secretary Asribad Behera said conducting such an international tournament would add to the glory of the state. "We condemn Pakistani soilder's act of beheading jawans of our country. But it should not affect sports," he said. Supporting OCA's effort to hold the tournament, BJD's Cuttack-Barabati MLA Debasis Samantray slammed BJP for politicising the matter. "If BJP people are so worried over the participation of Pakistani team, how come the BCCI comprising BJP leader Arun Jaitley as a functionary, allowed it to play in the country.
While the state government was in favour of holding the controversial match in Odisha, activists of BJP, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagaran Samukshya staged a road blockade on National Highway-5 near Cuttack in protest against participation of Pakistani players in the World Cup.
"We'll not allow Pakistani players in our state. We condemn holding of matches involving Pakistani players in Odisha," said Ashok Sahu, BJP's state vice-president. Besides Sangh Parivar comprising BJP, ABVP, Bajrang Dal and HJS, small political parties like Kalinga Sena and Utkal Bharat have announced their decision to oppose the game, scheduled to start from February.
While ABVP has threatened to dig up pitches ahead of Pakistan's match in Cuttack, Utkal Bharat and Kalinga Sena pledged to ensure that the players do not enter the state.