Sri Lankan Cricketers Barred From Indian State Amid Tamil Anger

The Indian Premier League, cricket’s richest sporting competition, said Sri Lankan players will not take part in matches in the southern state of Tamil Nadu amid anger over alleged war atrocities against Tamils in the island nation’s civil war.

“The security of all involved in the IPL, whether players, spectators or those working in the stadiums, is of paramount importance,” the league said in a statement yesterday. “The 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.” Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu.

The state’s Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha wrote to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday asking that Sri Lankan cricketers not play in Tamil Nadu because their presence risked inflaming tensions. Players, including Lasith Malinga and Mahela Jayawardene, are due to appear in the competition that draws competitors from around the world.

Tamil Nadu shares cultural and religious ties with Sri Lankan Tamils, who fought a 26-year war in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. The country’s army defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009 in a bloody offensive that killed its chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and ended the group’s fight for a separate homeland. About 100,000 people were killed in the conflict.

The United Nations Human Rights Council last week endorsed a U.S.-sponsored resolution calling on Sri Lanka to investigate alleged violations and war crimes that occurred during its civil war. Sri Lanka denied the charges and said the calls for a probe amount to interference.

Coalition Stability

The alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka are threatening the stability of the coalition government in India, Sri Lanka’s northern neighbor and biggest trade partner. The ethnic Tamil Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party withdrew from Singh’s government on March 19 accusing it of not taking a stronger stand against Sri Lanka. The DMK was Singh’s largest ally.

“In such a hostile and tense environment, we apprehend that the participation of Sri Lankan players in the IPL tournament, with many games to be played in Chennai, will aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere,” Jayalalitha wrote in her letter to Singh.

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