The question is: how exactly is one supposed to behave if a group of angry protesters come barging into your room?
As soon as the headlines started flashing red banners of breaking news, reporting an attack on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters by the notorious Hindu right-wing party, Shiv Sena, in another part of the world, conspiracy theorists geared to have a field day. The first and most obvious conspiracy brought to life stated that the Indian board was behind the attack on its headquarters at the Wankhade Stadium in Mumbai and the rationale was that the newly-elected BCCI President Shashank Manohar was sitting quite calmly on his seat when some 20-odd sainiks entered his room and demanded that Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shahryar Khan be sent back to Pakistan without any dialogue.
The question is: how exactly is one supposed to behave if a group of angry protesters come barging into your room? One cannot go haywire and jump out of the window shouting ‘Mayday’. There was no fire in Manohar’s office; what he faced were a bunch of, admittedly rowdy, puppets being made to dance to their leaders’ tunes. Manohar, being a veteran of politics as well as of the BCCI, understood the importance of trumping their fury without the use of hysteria or fists.
Secondly, why would a newly-elected board president invite the chairman of his neighbouring country’s cricket board and then seek help from an extremist group to cancel the talks with him? The idea seems good enough for a Bollywood movie, but its practical implication demands one to be ready for dire consequences if even one piece of the puzzle falls out of place. Manohar cannot be expected to act in such a foolhardy manner and risk his new position just to cancel talks with the PCB chairman. He wouldn’t have bothered inviting him in the first place if he didn’t want to meet Shahryar.
This gives rise to another conspiracy theory, where people think of Shahryar as the next door neighbour who drops by without an invitation.
Another accusation to consolidate the claim that the BCCI was behind the whole ruckus was that it scheduled the meeting in Mumbai, Shiv Sena’s home ground. The response to this theory is a simple question: where would you invite someone for talks if you need to discuss cricket with them in Pakistan? The PCB headquarters in Lahore, right?
Having said that, while Manohar could not have predicted Shiv Sena’s violent reaction, he could have at least shown the courtesy of meeting Shahryar and apologising on behalf of the BCCI and India, for the shameful behaviour of his countrymen. But beggars can’t be choosers and in this case poor Shahryar Khan seems more like the former.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2015.