Aircrafts Flying With Kashmir Banners, World Cup Stadium Is Now No Fly Zone


The cricket is going beyond the bat and the all. After the aircrafts flew with politically motivated banners over the Headingley Stadium, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has formally sent a complaint to the International Cricket Council (ICC). The BCCI has accused ICC of failure in ensuring foolproof security to the event; the participants and the cricket fans who have assembled to watch the on-going World Cup.

“On behalf of the BCCI, I would like to put on record that we take a very serious exception to the incidents that have taken place today,” BCCI CEO Rahul Johri said in his complaint to the ICC. “We request the ICC and the ECB to assure us that no such incident happens in the games ahead and that the Indian cricket team and the Indian fans will be provided full proof security.”

This was despite Chris Tetley, the ICC head of events, apologising to the BCCI earlier. “We are incredibly disappointed this has happened again. We do not condone any sort of political messages at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup,” the ICC had said in a statement after the first two flights carried “politically motivated” banner while flying over the venue of the match. “Throughout the tournament, we have worked with local police forces around the country to prevent this type of protest occurring. After the previous incident, we were assured by West Yorkshire Police there would not be a repeat of this.”

After the statement when the third flight also carried a similar statement, the ICC regretted that it happened despite assurances. It suggested the BCCI approach the highest authorities in the UK to ensure these things do not reoccur.

Banners In Air

This all started last month. On June 29, two banners reading Justice for Baluchistan and Help End Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan were flown over the stadium during the match between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Minutes later, a fierce fight broke out between Pakistan and Afghanistan fans.

A number of videos showed how the groups from two neighbouring countries fought pitched battles as a result of which the authorities had to evict at least tow persons from the stadium. Reports in media suggest that the two evicted persons created a scene outside the stadium and even attacked two journalists who were trying to record the battle on camera. These disturbances aired live from the stadium took place when the match between the teams of Afghanistan and Pakistan was half through. Pakistan eventually won the match.

It was almost the repeat of the same flying banners on this weekend when India and Sri Lanka were playing. Two aircrafts carrying banners flew over the Headingley Stadium in Leeds. The first one read: India stop genocide and free Kashmir. The two aircrafts flew over the stadium within a span of few. As Rohit hit his fifth century in the tournament, a second aircraft flew with yet another banner: Help End Mob Lynching. There was a third aircraft as well that flew with, what is called, a conciliatory banner saying: Love Cricket, Love Mumtaz Leeds.

 The first plane flew over the venue when India were fielding and the second one encircled the outfield when Rohit Sharma had just 75 on the crease and KL Rahul was scripting a 50.

 Media reports said the planes had taken off from Bradford and were headed to Leeds. The stadium falls under the unrestricted airspace and locals say it is a common more by private passengers, especially during football matches, to carry banners but they have not been politically inclined thus far, newspaper Pioneer reported from Leeds. Bradford is the city where the Mirpuri Kashmiris have a massive presence. They have stakes in local business and in politics.

Bradford to Leeds is short but regular flying zone and many of the residents have private flying licences, media reports said.

Though the West Yorkshire Police had retained a silence over the issue, the new reports suggest that there is a change in policy. Now the UK government has decided that the airspace above Old Trafford in Manchester and Edgbaston in Birmingham will be turned into a no-fly zone during the semi-finals on July 9 and July 11.


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