India Denied Pakistan's Ju-Jitsu Team Visas
KARACHI: The Indian High Commission denied visas to the Asian Ju-Jitsu gold medal winning Pakistani squad for the upcoming South and Central Asian Championship that will begin in Bangalore, India on May 29.
According to the Pakistan Ju-Jitsu Federation (PJJF) President Khalil Ahmed, the commission only granted visas to nine female athletes and one official out of the 32-member contingent that was preparing to feature in the championship.
Khalil said that it has been a disturbing experience for Pakistani athletes and the federation to face bias and discrimination by the neighbouring country’s ministry.
Khalil added that Pakistan have decided not to compete without their full squad that included Muhammad Ammar, Abu Hurraira and Jahanzaib Rashid, the medal winners at the Asian Championship.
“It’s just disappointing and frankly I’m dejected over this,” Ahmed told media.
“It’s even more depressing for my athletes, you see competing and losing doesn’t hurt as much, but not being able to participate is like losing without even stepping on the mat. My players are just extremely sad. They’ve been working so hard, and to see their hard work go down the drain like this is heart breaking.”
Khalil criticised the Indian High Commissions’ bias towards Pakistan saying that it is clear they did not want the Pakistan team to win on their soil.
“We’ll be lodging the protest with the Asian Ju-jitsu body and also on the government level, because there is no reason for denying the visas to our national athletes like this.
“What’s the point of sending just nine girls without a chaperone? That too so far away. If the competition was in Amritsar, I might have allowed the girls to go, but in this situation we have no choice but to withdraw. You see there is a discrimination here, they have no justification to deny us the visas,” said Khalil.
Athletes Ammar and Sundas Salam also emphasized that it was unfair to them after training for five months in Lahore.
Meanwhile, the Ju-jitsu Association of India President Suresh Gopi said that it was equally disappointing for him to know Pakistan’s full contingent did not get the visas. However, he said that he is grateful for the ministry to expedite the process of visas in just three weeks instead of the standard procedure of two months.
“We are also disanointed because we’ve arranged everything for the Pakistani athletes,” said Gopi.
“They were sending a big contingent; we had the support from the ministry. But at the same time I’m grateful to the ministry; in fact we’ve tried our best. We kept sending one of our officials to New Delhi to assure that Pakistani athletes would get the visas. It’s unprecedented that the visas were issued to Pakistani athletes within three weeks.
“So far the teams from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan Bangladesh, Maldives and UAE are coming.”
Before the news for the denial of visa came, Sundus said that the aim for the athletes will be to successfully defend their title at the championship, while playing in India will add to their competitive spirit.
“We aren’t looking to win silver or bronze, it’s the gold medal that we are seeking,” Sundas told media.
“It’s exciting because we’ll be competing in India and it’s almost like a battle. Defeating India on their home turf is an irresistible lure.”
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