Earlier this month, cricket lovers all over the country heaved a huge sigh of relief when the states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal gave the nod for holding the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in their territory despite the Home Ministry’s explicit statement that no central paramilitary forces would be sent for protection during the matches. Security was to be purely a headache of the organisers. It seemed despite the initial hiccups, plans for holding IPL would not fall through. Things have taken an altogether new turn with the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) announcing that IPL is now being conducted overseas.
The BCCI’s decision to shift the tournament out of the country followed an emergency meeting comprising its office-bearers and the eight franchise owners in Mumbai. IPL President Lalit Modi and BCCI President Shashank Manohar have both confirmed this news. The last straw of course was the refusal of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra governments to host the matches despite having given clearance for them earlier.
The news brings to the fore the ongoing debate of making a statement to the terrorists on one hand and falling prey to their terrorizing tactics on the other. The attack on the Sri Lankan players in Pakistan is taking its toll on the harried cricket officials in India. The economic losses are just part of the problem. An obvious fallout is that the IPL will most likely be contained to being a television event with scarce live viewership. Yet, persistence in holding the event despite the tremors of an imminent attack might prove to be foolish.
The solution of a truncated IPL tournament was suggested. That hardly seems to make sense since the risk involved would be the same irrespective of the duration of the tournament. The issue at hand is to what extent we must give in to the pressure imposed by the terrorists. Calling off the match might be regarded as bending to their wishes. But claims of practicality require us to view the situation a little more objectively. It is noble for a State to stand by its principles. Yet, it is nobler for a State to uphold its role as parens patriae and to ensure the welfare of its citizens before all else. A doctrine that has been upheld by our Judiciary staunchly is salus populi suprema est lex. It means that welfare of the people is the supreme law. The welfare of the people lies in ensuring their security and providing for them an atmosphere that is conducive to their safety.
The solutions before us are two pronged. Either the central government should hike the security measures being undertaken for the tournament. Or it should be called off. Any third option is a mirage that will lead us on only to disappoint us. We are treading upon a dangerous territory. And we need to be extremely careful.
Shifting the tournament has elicited an instant apology from Mr. Shashank Manohar, President of BCCI to the cricket fans in the country. But at the end of the day, we need to see if the ire of the cricket fans can outweigh the shocked fear that engulfed not just cricket fans but also the rest of the world as they shuddered to think of what happened in Pakistan earlier this year. We grow up hearing that prevention is better than cure. It is distressing to see that the age-old adage has lost its importance among our leaders.