Cricket World Cup 2019: 'Justice for Kashmir' banner flown over India-Sri Lanka game

ICC issues statement expressing disappointment over political messaging at Leeds

Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - Sri Lanka v India - Headingley, Leeds, Britain - July 6, 2019   A plane with a banner flies over the match   Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith
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The International Cricket Council has expressed disappointment after banners reading 'Justice for Kashmir' and 'India stop genocide and free Kashmir' were flown over Headingley, Leeds, during the ongoing Cricket World Cup match between India and Sri Lanka.

It was the second such incident over the venue after a banner was flown during last week's match between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"We are incredibly disappointed this has happened again," the ICC, the game's governing body, said in a statement. "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 protest occurring. After the previous incident we were assured by West Yorkshire Police there would not be a repeat of this issue, so we are very dissatisfied it has happened again."

Kashmir is a disputed region whose territory is in parts occupied by India and Pakistan, with both countries claiming all of it as theirs. It has been divided since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947. An insurgency on the Indian side over the past three decades has left more than 70,000 dead, mainly civilians.

Later, another banner was flown over the stadium reading 'Help end mob lynching in India'.

This is in reference to the dozens of people killed by right-wing groups over the past five years over allegations they had slaughtered cows or eaten beef, both of which have been banned in states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Critics have accused Modi's government of turning a blind eye to vigilante attacks on minority Muslims in the name of cow protection, although he has on rare occasions called the deaths "unacceptable" and the mobs "anti-social".

Last week's Pakistan-Afghanistan game was marred by clashes between fans, prompting a police probe. The ugly scenes were reportedly sparked by the flying of a 'Justice for Balochistan' banner over the ground. Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province that borders Afghanistan and Iran, is rife with separatist and sectarian insurgencies.