With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) demanding clarity on the process put in place to avoid a 'political slogan fiasco in Manchester when India play New Zealand in the first semi-final on Tuesday after the episodes in Leeds during the India-Sri Lanka game, ICC World Cup 2019 Managing Director Steve Elworthy has promised the Indian cricket board that every step is being taken to avoid a repeat of the incident.
A plane carrying the slogan 'Justice for Kashmir' was first seen flying over the Headingley Cricket Ground on Saturday which was followed by another plane with the slogan 'India Stop Genocide; Free Kashmir'. It was further followed by another plane which asked people to stop mob lynching in India.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is unhappy and has spoken to the police in Manchester and Birmingham and it has been ensured that it will be a no-flying zone during the course of the semifinals in the two cities.
Commenting on the matter in Headingley, ICC said in a release: "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. Throughout the tournament we have worked with local police forces around the country to prevent this type of protests 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."
In a letter to the BCCI, in possession of IANS, Elworthy wrote: "Jill McCracken (CWC Security Director) is meeting with the Police Gold Commander for Old Trafford on Monday, to establish his view on whether or not he is minded to prevent flights entering the airspace above Old Trafford. We will make representation in the strongest possible terms that the match is protected.
"Please be aware that it was this Commander who prevented the fly over at the India vs Pakistan fixture and his team at yesterday's match between Australia and South Africa, indicated they would be supportive of a similar approach.
"I am also in contact with the Government Minister of Aviation on this matter and she has already been in contact with the Civil Aviation Authority and will be contacting the Department for Transport tomorrow. I am expecting further information on this in due course. I will of course update you post these discussions and any subsequent actions taken or required."
As far as the Leeds episode is concerned, Elworthy wrote: "Just as brief background, the CWC19 security team had been assured by the West Yorkshire Police (WYP) there would be no further incidents of flyovers at Headingley Stadium after what happened there during the Pakistan vs Afghanistan match.
"The Police Commander had given instructions to his team that he be notified of any planned flights yesterday. Unfortunately, he did not receive any information from his team that these four flights had been booked and scheduled, and only when they were in the air and in-bound were the WYP notified.
"Having said that, his view was that no offences had been committed after meeting at the ground yesterday. This effectively means our hands were tied as the Police are the only agency that could stop a flight from taking off. The Police operate within the rule of law and they are autonomous and we could not instruct them to do anything.
"You may also be interested to know that WYP are conducting a post incident enquiry following the disorder at the Pakistan vs Afghanistan fixture and now intend to make further enquiries into who chartered the flights on these occasions. Your High Commission may be minded to ask for sight of the findings of that enquiry once complete."
Earlier, BCCI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rahul Johri had asked for a detailed explanation on the steps that were being taken to avoid the Leeds mishap.
"Kindly appraise us of the steps that have been taken by the ICC & the ECB to prevent any untoward incident when India play the semifinal on the 9th in Manchester. At our end we are also in touch with the Indian High Commission in the UK, for them to address the issue with the relevant UK authorities. Please keep us informed," Johri wrote to the ICC.
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