After Shiv Sena Protest in Mumbai, India-Pak Cricket Talks Shifted to Delhi

Shiv Sena activists protesting at the BCCI office in Mumbai

Mumbai: Talks on a potential India-Pakistan series were cancelled in Mumbai this morning after activists of the Shiv Sena broke into the office of India's cricket board BCCI just before its chief Shashank Manohar was to meet with his Pakistani counterpart Shahryar Khan.

The talks will be held in Delhi, said sources.

Shiv Sena activists waving placards of "Shahryar Khan, Go Back" crashed through the gates of the office in Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium that serves as the headquarters of the BCCI or the Board for Control of Cricket in India.

They entered Mr Manohar's office and crowded around his desk, shouting slogans and appearing determined to stop him from meeting the Pakistan cricket board chief to discuss a bilateral series in December. At least 10 protesters were arrested.

Shahryar Khan arrived in Mumbai yesterday for the talks, at the invitation of the BCCI chief.

The Congress condemned the attack. "BCCI is a responsible body and will not do anything against national interest. Cricketing decisions should be left to BCCI. Cricket is a gentleman's man and the spirit of the game expects same generosity and tolerance from those who love the game," tweeted Congress lawmaker Rajeev Shukla, who was BCCI vice president in the past.

The Shiv Sena, which rules Maharashtra in alliance with the BJP, says it will not allow any engagement with Pakistan because of terror attacks planned from its soil and firing on the border.

The Shiv Sena's protests forced the cancellation of legendary Pakistani artiste Ghulam Ali's concert two weeks ago and last week, its activists threw black paint on columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni for organising the launch of former Pakistan minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book.

The Sena's partner BJP could not prevent the scrapping of the Ghulam Ali concert but Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took a firm stand against the attack on Mr Kulkarni. The state government also provided Mr Kasuri protection for the book launch function, which led to friction between the Sena and the BJP.

The Indian and Pakistani boards had signed a pact for six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023, beginning with Pakistan's home series in December.