Misusing Indian Flag Can't be Allowed: Kiren Rijiju Questions 'Unofficial' Kabaddi Team Visiting Pakistan

The Indian kabaddi team at the Wagah border. (Image credit: Twitter@KabaddiIndia)

The Indian kabaddi team at the Wagah border. (Image credit: Twitter@KabaddiIndia)

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said India had no role in granting the visa after a 60-member contingent went to Lahore for the World Kabaddi Championship.

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New Delhi: Union sports minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday clarified that India did not have any 'role in granting visa' to the Kabaddi players who have travelled to Pakistan for the World Kabaddi Championship.

The Union Sports Minster aid that no one can misuse the Indian national flag or the Indian team's name.

"Misusing the Indian flag or Indian team's name cannot be allowed for unauthorised tournaments. I will ask the players if they've gone to Pakistan with Kabaddi federation's approval," Rijiju told exclusively to news18.com.

"No one has given permission to any Kabaddi player to go to Pakistan," Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju told ANI.

"Issuance of giving visa is the sovereign prerogative of a country. We have no role in granting visa. We'll talk to the Kabaddi federation on whether it was an informed visit or not," Rijiju added.

The procedure for participation at overseas events is that the national federation will communicate to the sports ministry which in turn will write to the external affairs ministry for political clearance and home ministry for security clearance, irrespective of whether the government is funding the contingent or not.

This is the first time that Pakistan is hosting the tournament with a total of 10 countries - India, Australia, UK, Canada, Germany, Iran, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Azerbaijan - taking part. All the six previous editions of the World Kabaddi Championship took place in India between 2010 and 2019. India have won all six championships, defeating Pakistan in the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions.

According to reports, there were 60 Indian players who went to Pakistan from the Attari international border in two batches on February 6 and 7. Pakistan Punjab Minister for Sports, Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti, 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.

The administrator of Amateur Kabbadi Federation of India (AKFI) Justice (Retd) SP Garg also said that the national body has not cleared any such team.

"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," he said.

"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," he added.

The championships are played in the 'traditional' circle format while the national-style Kabaddi is recognised by the Indian Olympic Association, the Olympic Council of Asia and is the format in which the Asian Games are played. Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) also uses the latter. In the circle format, teams have 10 players and four rolling substitutes. So naturally only 14 players are needed in a squad, which has raised questions on the number of Indians who have traveled to Pakistan.

According to reports, Pakistan Amateur Circle Kabaddi Federation (PACKF) have alleged that the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has to import "60 Indian players to adjust them in teams of other countries, who have not sent official teams."

The eight-day tournament opens on Monday at the Punjab Football Stadium in Lahore followed by some matches in Faisalabad (February 12 and 13) and Gujrat (February 14). The final will be held in Lahore on February 16 and the winner of the tournament will get 10 million rupees, while the runners-up will get 7.5 million rupees.

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