The players leaving for home are Fareed Ahmed, Imran Butt, Mahmood Rashid and Muhammad Tousiq (all Mumbai Magicians), Muhammad Rizwan Sr and Muhammad Rizwan Jr (Delhi Waveriders), Muhammad Irfan and Shafqat Rasool (Ranchi Rhinos) and Kashif Shah (Jaypee Punjab Warriors).
The players, blissfully unaware of the late-evening development, were practising with their franchise teams.
“The decision was made in consultation with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the franchise officials,” HIL chairman Narinder Batra told reporters yesterday.
“Due to extraordinary circumstances, we reached a consensus that it was best for Pakistanis to return home. We did not want them to play under any sort of pressure. As it is not their fault, they will be paid according to their three-year contract and the teams are free to look for their replacements. The decision (to send them home) however was taken only for 2013,” added Batra.
The clamour for their ouster began when Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt the Mumbai franchise team’s home matches if it fielded the Pakistani players. The extreme right wing party’s action came following the killing of Indian soldiers at the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mumbai Magicians have already started looking at replacements for Ahmed, Butt, Rashid and Tousiq.
“Keeping public sentiment in mind, we have decided to send the players back to Pakistan. To replace the Pakistanis, we have already started talking to the Australian and New Zealand players,” Mumbai Magicians owner Amit Burman told IANS.