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London Attacks Shadow Over Ind-Pak ICC Game

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LONDON, May 23, 2017 (Xinhua) -- Flag flies at half mast above Portcullis House next to the Houses of Parliament after Manchester Arena bombing, in London, Britain, on May 23, 2017.(Xinhua/Tim Ireland/IANS) (dtf) by .

The subdued mood itself in the British capital has robbed the tournament of its sheen and this specific match has suddenly become an unwelcome venue….writes Bikram Vohra

LONDON, May 23, 2017 (Xinhua) -- Flag flies at half mast above Portcullis House next to the Houses of Parliament after Manchester Arena bombing, in London, Britain, on May 23, 2017.(Xinhua/Tim Ireland/IANS) (dtf) by . Saturday night’s attacks in London have once again provided proof that the new approach to generating terror is by going for soft non-retaliatory targets. Only a day ago, we had written a piece underscoring the reworked priorities and indicating how places of entertainment make these attacks that much more sinister.

In the immediate fallout of the attacks, there has been a direct impact on the India-Pakistan cricket match. Of the 25,000 tickets sold, many are now up for grabs as the waiting list dwindles and those who bought them are having second thoughts about being in a crowded stadium.

The subdued mood itself in the British capital has robbed the tournament of its sheen and this specific match has suddenly become an unwelcome venue.

Would you, on a day like this, venture into a crowded stadium where the security measures themselves will be tightened dramatically and ‘enjoying’ the tussle suddenly no longer attractive.

As for taking children with you, the horror of hearing or witnessing a child being stabbed by one of the three killed terrorists has dampened the enthusiasm.

MANCHESTER, May 25, 2017 (Xinhua) -- People observe a minute's silence to honor the victims of the Manchester Arena attack at St. Anne's Square in Manchester, Britain, May 25, 2017. (Xinhua/IANS)(yk) by .
People observe a minute’s silence to honor the victims of the Manchester Arena attack at St. Anne’s Square in Manchester, Britain (Xinhua/IANS)(yk)

“Although London is a very resilient city, I don’t think the mood is quite right across the country for a sub-continental cricket tie today,” the editor of Britain’s largest selling Asian paper Asian Lite, Azeez Anasuddin, said  even as the capital is waking to the shock of Saturday night’s attack.

There is also a fear of a backlash and Asians especially are not going to venture far from home this Sunday.

Even as Manchester was preparing to honour the memory of those killed in the Manchester Arena during the Ariana Grande concert two weeks ago, this new atrocity has the city to the edge.

Indian and Pakistani fans are more than just nervous about going to the venue. “It’s a bit obscene, right, to be shouting and yelling and turning Edgbaston into a ‘battlefield’ against this morning’s gruesome incidents,” says Azeez. “I don’t think cricket is on anyone’s mind as we all wake up to these screaming headlines. At the cricket ground itself and on social platforms there are the first indications of people ready to give away their tickets.”

As of this moment there is no information about the match being called off although there will be a possible review of the general law and order situation when Prime Minister Theresa May addresses a special meeting of the Cabinet on Sunday morning. As things stand, people are offering their homes to the stranded from Saturday evening and transportation is still all snarled up.

What makes the venue even more worrisome for the authorities is the current relationship between India and Pakistan and the fact that there presently an active exchange of fire on the Line of Control. If the metropolitan police recommend that the tie has potential incendiary value and could be a flashpoint as investigative agencies check to see where the trails lead, the game could be put on hold.

To many that would make sense.

Perhaps by afternoon, things will be clearer but expect to see gaps in the spectator enclosures and a rather tangible absence of interest in the proceedings in Britain at least.

For the moment, the Champion’s Trophy has lost its sheen.