The arrival of an ‘Indian team’ in Pakistan for the World Kabaddi Championship has kicked up a controversy. India’s sports ministry and the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India, the national federation, claim they haven’t given clearance to any sportsperson for participation in the competition.
A contingent from India reached Lahore on Saturday via the Wagah border to take part in the championship, which is being hosted by Pakistan for the first time. The pictures and footage of the Indians arriving in Lahore have surfaced in social media.
“The sports ministry and the ministry of external affairs have not granted any permission to any team, which is mandatory while representing the country at any international event,” a source from the sports ministry told PTI on a condition of anonymity.
The administrator of AKFI, Justice (Retd.) S. P. Garg, said, “We have no information about any kabbadi team which has gone to Pakistan. No permission was ever granted by AKFI to any team to go to Pakistan and play any kabbadi match there. We came to know about it only after information was sought. AKFI does not support any such activity. Legal action may be taken against the defaulters.”
The AKFI is currently being run by an administrator as the Delhi High Court had struck down its elections held in 2018.
To get the necessary permission for participation in overseas sporting competitions, the national federation for that particular sport communicates the requirement to the sports ministry which in turn writes to the Ministry of External Affairs for political clearance and the Home Ministry for security clearance, irrespective of whether the government funds the contingent or not.
The championship begins on Monday at the Punjab Football Stadium in Lahore. Some matches will also be held in Faisalabad and Gujrat. Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti, Pakistan Punjab Minister for Sports, welcomed the ‘Indian contingent’ at a Lahore hotel. The officials of the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation welcomed and garlanded the Indian players when they crossed into Pakistan from Wagah border from where they were taken in a security convoy to their hotel in Lahore.
All the six previous editions of the World Kabbadi Championship took place in India between 2010 and 2019. India has won all six championships, defeating Pakistan in the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions.
Pakistan’s organisers said that teams from Australia, England, Germany, Iran, Azerbaijan, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Canada are also taking part in the event.
The winner of the tournament will get PKR 10 million, while the runner-ups will get PKR 7.5 million.
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