Indians bar Australian cricketers

NEW DELHI - An influential right-wing Hindu party in Mumbai warned yesterday that it would prevent Australia's cricketers from playing in parts of India because of attacks on Indians living Down Under.

NEW DELHI - An influential right-wing Hindu party in Mumbai warned yesterday that it would prevent Australia's cricketers from playing in parts of India because of attacks on Indians living Down Under.

Bal Thackeray, who heads the radical Shiv Sena party, said the Australians will be barred from playing in Maharashtra state. Mumbai is the state capital.

"We will not allow kangaroo cricketers to play in Mumbai and Maharashtra until the attacks on Indians are stopped," the ageing Thackeray wrote in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna.

"Our boys are being stabbed, burnt and shot at in that country and still our cricketers have no qualms playing with them. Do they have any national pride?"

The murder of Nitin Garg, 21, in Melbourne earlier this month caused anger among Indians in Australia and overseas, and prompted India's foreign minister SM Krishna to say it would hurt ties.

The murder followed a spate of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne in the past 18 months.

Australian cricketers like captain Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Matthew Hayden and Shane Watson are star attractions in the third edition of the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) from March until April. Two major cities in Maharashtra, Mumbai and Nagpur, are due to host IPL matches. - Sapa-AFP

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