Tribune News Service
Attari, February 17
The “unofficial” kabaddi team, which had gone to Pakistan to participate in a championship, today returned through the Attari-Wagah land route after losing the final match to the host country.
The matter had kicked up a row when the team reached Pakistan on February 9. Feigning ignorance over its participation, the Ministry of Sports and Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) had said that no clearance was granted to them to represent the country.
Team manager Davinder Singh Bajwa said they participated in the tournament in their “individual” capacity and the permission was mandatory only if they played under the banner of any federation or ministry. “Even individual pilgrimage to Pakistan is allowed. If we went to play, then why is there such hue and cry? We procured valid visa individually and our arrival and departure details were there with the immigration authorities of both sides. How could it be termed as illegal?” he asked.
Bajwa said all players were associated with different clubs that play tournaments in the US, Canada and Italy. “When we learnt that Pakistan Kabaddi Federation was organising a circle-style tournament dedicated to the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, we decided to participate,” he said.
When asked about the players wearing jerseys with “India” printed on these, he said, “The players wore the jerseys provided to them by the organisers.”
Coach Harpreet Singh Baba said they were unaware of any controversy and that no official from the Indian side approached them. “If we defied the law, the Indian authorities could have questioned us on our arrival,” he said.Even as India clarified that no official team participated, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated his team on Twitter. It has been learnt that the winner got prize money of Rs 1 crore and the runners-up (Indian players) Rs 75 lakh.
Earlier, the AKFI had asked its affiliated unit Punjab Kabaddi Association (PKA) about sending the team to Pakistan. Amanpreet Singh Malhi, general secretary, PKA, confirmed that an invitation was received from Pakistan.
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