‘Indian hand in attack on Sri Lankan cricketers’

April 10th, 2009 - 8:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Lahore/New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Lahore’s police chief sprang a surprise Friday, suggesting an Indian hand in the terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the city last month, a suggestion that New Delhi promptly trashed.
“With the help of the security agencies, we have made much progress and our investigations are continuing. But one thing I can tell you is that there is strong evidence of an Indian hand,” Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore told reporters in Pakistan’s cultural capital.

“It’s a red herring and does not serve any purpose,” was Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma’s immediate riposte in New Delhi.

“Nobody has ever accused India of such things. Rather, we are the victims of attacks from Pakistani soil. They should put their own house in order,” Sharma added.

Rathore’s claim is surprising, since the report Pakistan had submitted to Sri Lanka on the March 3 attack has not mentioned any Indian involvement.

The Pakistani media, too, has got into the act, deprecating the government tendency to suggest an Indian hand in the attack. Six Sri Lankan players and the team’s assistant coach were injured in the attack, while six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed.

The “flurry of charges” linking India to the attack “make no sense at all”, an editorial in a leading English daily said March 5, while another cautioned that such finger pointing would only widen the India-Pakistan rift.

“The flurry of charges from the media and members of the government that our neighbour to the east may have had a hand make no sense at all - given that the gunmen have not been apprehended and no other evidence points in this particular direction,” The News said in an editorial headlined “No closer to the truth”.

On its part, Daily Times referred to the “planting” of a police report that apparently warned that India’s spy agency RAW was planning to target the Sri Lankan cricketers and said it was meant to “widen the rift between India and Pakistan and bring relief to the terrorist elements under pressure from the Pakistan army in the tribal areas”.

The editorial was headlined “Reaching out for denial again”.

Armed terrorists had ambushed the Sri Lankan team bus while it was on its way to Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium for the third day’s play in the second cricket Test against Pakistan.

The Sri Lankan government immediately canceled the tour and flew the team back home.

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