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Jan 20, 2013 at 08:57am IST

Government played no role in sending back Pakistani hockey players: Salman Khurshid

New Delhi: In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that the government played no role in sending back Pakistani sportspersons and cancelling plays to be performed by artists from the neighbouring country following the killing of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistan army at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a ceasefire violation on January 8, 2013, the Pakistani troops killed two Indian soldiers - Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh and Lance Naik Hemraj Singh - at the LoC. The bodies of the soldiers were found mutilated. Following the incident, tension escalated between the two countries. While the Indian and the Pakistan governments tried to control the situation, protests were witnessed in India with people demanding that strong actions should be taken against the neighbour country.

Speaking to Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate, Khurshid clarified that the decision to send back Pakistani hockey players and cancel proposed Pakistani plays were taken by the organisers and the government had no say in it.

Here is an excerpt of the interview:

Karan Thapar: After an initial period of restraint and sobriety, you put visas for the elderly on hold, you send back hockey players, you cancelled plays both in Jaipur and Delhi. Can you today with hindsight and reflection accept that those were silly populist gestures and a mistake?

Salman Khurshid: Karan, let me share this with you. The Central government did not formally reflect on any decision that could be described as a decision that led to any of these events.

Karan Thapar: Then how did these things happen?

Salman Khurshid: A lot of this was done normally and automatically by the organisers themselves.

Karan Thapar: But the visas being put on hold?

Salman Khurshid: No visas have been put on hold. Only one element of visas was queried by some of our agencies. It was only a matter of postponing, nothing has been put on hold.

Karan Thapar: You are suggesting that the putting on hold of the visas, the sending back of hockey players, the cancellation of plays was not a well thought out decision. It was things that individuals did arbitrarily or individually?

Salman Khurshid: Not arbitrarily.

Karan Thapar: Not consulting the government.

Salman Khurshid: Keeping a context in mind, keeping the developments that had taken place and keeping in mind their responsibility. As far as hockey players are concerned, there is a responsibility of the organisers in the matches.

Karan Thapar: But there was no decision by the Cabinet to take these steps?

Salman Khurshid: There was no decision taken by the Cabinet at all.

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