BCCI raises security concerns over ‘unacceptable’ aircraft incident, writes to ICC

A banner which reads “Help end mob lynching in India” is towed by an aircraft as it flies over the venue of the Cricket World Cup match between India and Sri Lanka at Headingley in Leeds. (Source: AP)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BBCI) raised security concerns with the International Cricket Council (ICC) after aircraft with anti-India slogans fly during their match against Sri Lanka in Leeds on Saturday.

Minutes after India’s final group stage match started, an aircraft carrying the banner ‘Justice for Kashmir’ flew above Headingley stadium. After a half an hour, a similar looking aircraft flew over the stadium with a different banner – ‘India Stop Genocide, Free Kashmir’.

Writing to ICC, a BCCI official was quoted by PTI as saying, “This is completely unacceptable. We have written to the ICC, raising our concerns about what happened in Headingley. If this kind of incident is repeated in the semi-finals, it will be really unfortunate. Safety and security of our players is paramount.”

This is second such incident inside 10 days as Afghanistan and Pakistan fans had clashed at the same venue on June 29 after ‘Justice for Balochistan’ banner was displayed by an unnamed aircraft that landed at the Bradford airport. A few fans were evicted for engaging in a brawl inside the stadium premises.

The ICC also released a statement after the match, expressing disappointment. “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 said in a statement.

“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 repeat of this issue, so we are very dissatisfied it has happened again,” the ICC statement added.

According to reports, the air space above Old Trafford in Manchester and Edgbaston in Birmingham will be turned into ‘No-Fly Zone’ during the two semifinals on July 9 and July 11, respectively.