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Setback for Indian hockey league as Pakistani players sent home over rising border tension

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NEW DELHI - Nine Pakistani players in the fledgling Hockey India League were sent home on Tuesday following protests from right-wing parties.

Hockey India secretary-general Narinder Batra said the decision was taken after discussions with the Pakistan Hockey Federation and the five teams because of rising tension on the border in the disputed Kashmir region, where two soldiers on each side have been killed in the past 10 days.

"After discussion with all the stakeholders we decided to send the Pakistan players back due to the extraordinary situation which has arisen," Batra said. "We kept all stakeholders in the loop before taking the decision."

Batra said the Pakistanis would be paid their full salaries for the league, which started on Monday and runs to Feb. 10.

"We and PHF have mutually decided to release the players so that they do not feel the mental stress and their performance is not affected," Batra said. "Franchises will get the right to ask for replacements. They can select from the reserve pool within their allocated budget."

Activists of the Shiv Sena protested outside the practice venue of the Mumbai Magicians on Sunday, leading to the training session being scrapped. There was also a protest by a few people during the tournament opener between Delhi Waveriders and Punjab Warriors in New Delhi on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which recently hosted Pakistan for three one-dayers and two Twenty20 games, has informed the International Cricket Council of the prevalent sentiments ahead of the Women's World Cup being hosted by India from Jan. 31.

Pakistan is scheduled to participate in the eight-team tournament to be held at four venues in Mumbai.

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