Colombo: Former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga on Wednesday slammed the decision of the cricket Board and government to allow Sri Lankan players to participate in the IPL as an endorsement of human rights abuse allegations against Sri Lanka.
"What most people seem to ignore is that both Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi are wanting to stop Sri Lankans playing in Tamil Nadu because they accuse Sri Lanka of human rights violations. So playing in other (Indian) states while skipping Tamil Nadu is an endorsement of human rights allegations against our country," Ranatunga told PTI. "Players must be made aware of this as the world will say that Sri Lankan IPL players have unwittingly endorsed the human rights violation charges," he said.
Ranatunga charged both the Tamil Nadu leaders of playing politics with sport. "They were never concerned about the welfare of north and east (Sri Lankan) Tamils other than at times of elections in Tamil Nadu," Ranatunga said. He was also critical of the attitude of IPL organisers towards the issue.
"They are willing to play in South India without the Sri Lankan players. This is nothing but action destroying the Sri Lankan player identity," Ranatunga said. Ranatunga's comments came as the government today allowed the 13 players to appear for IPL franchises subject to skipping matches in Chennai. Ranatunga had slammed IPL Governing Council's decision to withdraw Sri Lankan cricketers from Chennai matches of the tournament and had asked the players to opt out of the entire high-profile event beginning April 3.
"....as far as cricketers are concerned I think if they can't play in South India (Chennai) they should not play in other parts either. I personally feel if players are not welcomed in one part of India they should not be part of any IPL," Ranatunga said "The excuse that the South Indian politician gave was war crimes. And I Am sure the players should take that into consideration and think of the country and pull out from the entire Indian Premier League," he told a news channel.
Ranatunga said that the IPL Governing Council should have taken all the matches away from Chennai. "I think what IPL should have done was pulled out all the matches from South India if they are so keen on Sri Lankan players participation. But it's all political gimmick," he said. Yesterday, bowing to intense political pressure, the IPL Governing Council, withdrew top Sri Lankan players from the Chennai matches of the high-profile IPL after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa refused to host them in view of the prevailing anti-Sinhalese sentiments in the state.