Chandigarh, Feb 10 (IANS) The Punjab government on Monday said it has nothing to do with Indian players who went to Pakistan for an international kabaddi tournament and denied that the players were representing either the state or the country.
“We have not sent any team to represent the state or the nation in any championship in Pakistan,” Punjab Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi told the media.
“If the PKA is confirming that it has sent the players, they should identify them,” Sodhi added.
The Punjab Kabaddi Association (PKA) has sent a 60-member Indian contingent to Pakistan for the “World Cup”. It entered Pakistan via the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar.
PKA vice-president Tejinder Singh Middukhera said the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation has organised the tournament to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev and had invited the PKA.
The team’s coach is Harprit Singh Baba and its captain is Gurlal Ghanaur.
However, Punjab state Congress President Sunil Jakhar on Monday blamed the Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD) for facilitating the players in procuring visas for visiting Lahore for the event.
“I would ask Union Home Minister Amit Shah to get the matter probed either by RAW or NIA (National Investigation Agency) as to how the players procured their visas,” he said.
Jakhar said their visit to Pakistan under the guise of participating in the kabaddi tournament is a threat to the country’s national security. He expressed apprehensions that three Union ministers from Punjab might have facilitated their visit.
Jakhar blamed the Akali Dal for facilitating the players in procuring their visas despite the hostile relations with Pakistan.
Refuting the allegations, SAD spokesperson and senior leader Daljit Singh Cheema told the media that the party has nothing to do with the visit of the players to Pakistan.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has been left shellshocked after the kabaddi team from India reached Pakistan to take part in the tournament.
Speaking to IANS, IOA chief Narinder Batra said on Monday that the team, which reached Lahore on Saturday, is not an official one from India and hence, they cannot use the word “India” under their banner as they have not been approved by the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI).
According to the organisers of the tournament, teams from 10 nations are taking part in the event being organised in three cities. A total of 24 matches are scheduled to be played in the tournament with the winners getting a prize money of Rs 10 million, while the runner-ups will get Rs 7.5 million.
Players from 10 countries — Pakistan, India, Canada, the United States, Australia, England, Iran, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Azerbaijan are taking part in the event.