Himachal Government took over all the HPCA properties

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By : Arvind Sharma

Following the Himachal cabinet’s decision, and subsequently taking over of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association’s (HPCA) International Cricket Stadium and a five-star luxury resort, ‘The Pavilion’ in Dharamshala ,by administration on Midnight yesterday,  Ranji match between Himachal Pradesh and Goa,  scheduled for Sunday has been cancelled. The cancellation was confirmed by HPCA’s PRO Sanjay Sharma on phone.

Earlier in the late night by swift operation, the Kangra district administration finally took over the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium as well as the Pavillion hotel at Dharamshala — both known to be closely associated with Anurag Thakur, MP and former Chief Minister P. K. Dhumal’s son. When contacted, Anurag Thakur said on the cancellation of HPCA land leases,”The Chief Minister must know that the judiciary in this country is fiercely independent and will be approached for relief for this  illegal and politically motivated action. People of the state are watching every vindictive action of the government.”

Late in night, a team led by Deputy Commissioner Kangra, C. Paulrasu reached HPCA stadium at2 A.M. The other members of the team were Additional Deputy Commissioner, Rohan Chand Thakur, Additional District Magistrate, Rakesh Sharma and Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Harish Gajju. The officials  had to enter the stadium premises by breaking the locks of main gate as HPCA security guard refused to open the gates stating that the keys were with cricket body’s officials. District Sports Officer Mahender Pratap Bharadiya, who was given the charge of the stadium.

HPCA spokesperson, Sanjay Sharma who reached the spot after the official had entered the stadium opposed the authorities by saying that the cricket body was not informed about the action on time. He also refused to receive the copy of takeover orders. The authorities told the HPCA official that no activity could be undertaken in the stadium without permission.

Later, the authorities also took over ‘The Pavilion’ hotel around 2:50 A.M. while another stadium of the cricket body at Nadaun adjoining Hamirpur district (in the constituency of MP Anurag Thakur) was also taken over at 3 A.M.

Meanwhile, Sanjay Sharma flayed the state government for its decision to take over the stadium. “This is like some emergency has been imposed in the state. The case is still pending in High Court but state government seems to be in some hurry. At least authorities should have waited till morning,” said Sanjay Sharma. He said that the Congress government is repeating the 2005 episode when an attempt was made to take over HPCA forcefully. “We have a Ranji match scheduled for Sunday between Himachal and Goa . Who will take the responsibility of all the arrangements?” he added. He also said that HPCA will fight legal battle against the government’s decision.

Dharamshala Cricket stadium was built in 2003 and resort, ‘The Pavilion’, was built in 2011-12 by the HPCA, under the presidentship of BJP M.P. Anurag Thakur, during the tenure of the earlier BJP governments. According to reports, the land for the resort was allotted to the HPCA for building residential facilities for sportsmen.

The state cabinet which met at state capital Shimla on Saturday under chairmanship of Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh had decided to cancel the lease deeds of all the land allotted to the sports body at various places across the state for setting up a stadium and creation of other facilities and take over its properties.  After receiving the government orders the district officials held a meeting late night at Dharamshala before the midnight action. Sources said that the mid night operation was conducted to  avoid confrontation with the HPCA members and supporters.

The cabinet decided to take back and cancel the lease made in favour of the HPCA at Luhnu in Bilaspur, Nadaun in Hamirpur, Gumma in Shimla and Lalpani in Shimla. The Vigilance Bureau has already registered two cases against HPCA. The Registrar Cooperative Societies has also issued a show-cause notice to the HPCA for converting itself from a society into a company.