IPL cricket: India's Tamil Nadu bars Sri Lanka players

IPL Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The IPL is considered to be the world's showcase for Twenty20 cricket.

India's Tamil Nadu state has said it will not host Indian Premier League games with Sri Lankan players, amid anger over Colombo's rights record.

Chief Minister Jayalalitha announced the decision in a letter to the PM. The Indian Premier League said teams taking part were being told of the move.

Players from around the world compete in the world's richest cricket league.

Thirteen Sri Lankans are signed up to play in the nine-team Twenty20 tournament, which begins on 3 April.

They include Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga, Tilakratne Dilshan and Ajantha Mendis.

Ten Indian Premier League (IPL) games are scheduled to be played in Chennai as part of the tournament, which is now in its sixth season.

Chennai Super Kings, one of the top franchises, has two Sri Lankans - seamer Nuwan Kulasekara and off-spinner Akila Dananjaya.

Last week the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution highly critical of Sri Lanka's human rights record. The government in Colombo rejects allegations of abuses.

Sri Lanka's army defeated separatist Tamil rebels in 2009 after a brutal 26-year war, but it is the final phase of that war which has come under most scrutiny by rights activists.

The Tamil Nadu move follows concern that rising political tension in the state over alleged human rights violations of Tamils in Sri Lanka could spill over into the hugely popular IPL.

Emotional echo

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ms Jayalalitha said people in Tamil Nadu had been angered by "barbaric acts" against Sri Lankan Tamils.

Her government therefore felt that "IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu".

Ms Jayalalitha said her government would permit IPL matches to go ahead in Tamil Nadu "only if organisers provide an undertaking that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff would participate in these matches".

She said that people in Tamil Nadu were disturbed by alleged human rights violations and the systematic killing of people of Tamil ethnicity in Sri Lanka, and that if the Sri Lankans played in the state, it would "aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere".

In a statement on Tuesday, IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla said the security of all involved in the tournament, "whether players, spectators or those working in the stadiums, is of paramount importance".

"The [IPL] Governing Council decided that Sri Lankan players will not participate in the Pepsi IPL 2013 League matches in Chennai and will advise the nine franchises accordingly," it said.

Mr Shukla told Indian media that Chennai will continue to host its IPL matches but without any Sri Lankan players.

The Sri Lankan Cricket Board has said that it has received assurances from its Indian counterpart that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure players are safe.

Earlier this month the Sri Lankan foreign ministry issued a travel advisory for its citizens in Tamil Nadu, warning them to exercise caution because "extreme elements with vested interests" were attempting to tarnish the country's "friendly relations with India".

The main opposition party in Tamil Nadu withdrew from India's governing coalition - also in March - over its failure to condemn alleged atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils.

There have been protests in the state over the treatment of Sri Lanka's Tamil minority.

Analysts say the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils has an emotional and often a political echo in Tamil Nadu.

India supported military action against Tamil Tiger rebels for most of the Sri Lankan war, but always cautioned Colombo about protecting the rights of the Tamil civilian population and ensuring their welfare.

Players from Pakistan have also not been allowed to take part in the IPL tournament since 2009, following the November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, which were blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

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