Hockey India sends Pakistan players packing as Shiv Sena, BJP ratchet up Sudhakar Singh, Hemraj beheading row

The India-Pakistan tensions at the LoC today spilled over to the sporting arena with Hockey India deciding to send back four Pakistani recruits of HIL franchise Mumbai Magicians after protests over the killing of Indian soldiers on the border.

After Shiv Sena protests in Mumbai forced the team to shift training base to Delhi, Hockey India decided to play safe and send the team's Pakistani signings back.

"Fearing escalation of tension, the Hockey India's Governing Council has taken the decision to send back the four Pakistani players in the Mumbai team," a top Hockey India official said.

The four players who would be sent back are Mahmood Rashid, Fareed Ahmed, Muhammad Tousiq and Imran Butt and they are expected to take the flight home this evening.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation has been informed about the decision and the circumstances under which it was taken. The PHF has expressed understanding of the situation.

"The contracts of the four Pakistani players would remain valid and the payments would be made to them although they would not be playing in any of the matches," the official said.

In all, there are nine players contracted to play in the five-team Hockey India League, which got underway yesterday.

"We will take a decision about the other Pakistani players depending on how the situation pans out. If we feel that there could be more trouble, we may have to take an

appropriate decision," he said.

The league ran into rough weather after the killing of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistan Army on January 8 in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mumbai Magicians, based in Mumbai, became the obvious target because of its large number of Pakistani recruits and the presence of right-wing outfit Shiv Sena's stronghold on the city.

Over 100 Sena workers had protested against the participation of Pakistani players in the Mumbai franchise and disrupted the scheduled practise session on Sunday. This

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