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The British government has issued a plea to the Indian government, urging fair treatment of British citizens during the visa process, citing a troubling situation involving Somerset off-spinner Shoaib Bashir’s entry issues for his first England Test tour in India. Bashir, facing delays apparently due to his Pakistani heritage, finds himself back in London awaiting visa clearance, casting a shadow over his debut experience with the England team.
England’s captain Ben Stokes has revealed the squad’s contemplation of refusing to travel until Bashir’s clearance, showcasing the severity of the situation. Stokes, expressing devastation over Bashir’s predicament during the pre-tour camp in Abu Dhabi, emphasized the emotional toll it has taken on the team. Stuart Hooper, ECB’s director of cricket operations, has chosen to stay with Bashir in the UAE.
“When I first found the news out in Abu Dhabi, I did say we shouldn’t fly until Bash gets his visa,” Stokes said. “But that was a little bit tongue in cheek. I know it’s a way bigger thing than doing that. That was probably just emotions around the whole thing. I’m pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this.As a leader, as a captain, when one of your teammates is affected by something like that, you get a bit emotional. I know he’s back in London and a lot of people are jumping through hoops to try and get this through quicker. Hopefully, we’re gonna see him here over the weekend. There was never a [realistic] chance that we were ever not going to travel around this but Bash knows he’s had our full support.”
This incident is not isolated, as similar visa issues have been faced by England players with Pakistani heritage in the past, including Saqib Mahmood, Usman Khawaja, and Moeen Ali. The British government has intervened, expecting India to treat British citizens fairly in the visa process, but despite assurances from the BCCI and India High Commission, little progress has been made.
With Bashir ruled out of contention for the first Test and England hoping for his return by Sunday, Stokes expresses frustration over the prolonged visa process since the squad announcement in December. Rehan Ahmed, another player with Pakistani heritage, has already secured the necessary paperwork, highlighting the inconsistencies in the visa approval process.
Not the first time British government has raised concerns on India’s racism
The situation underscores the challenges British citizens with Pakistani heritage face in obtaining Indian visas, leading to concerns raised by the British government with the Indian High Commission in the past. As Bashir’s ordeal continues, England emphasize its unwavering support, hoping for a quick resolution that allows him to focus on the remainder of the tour.
Despite the frustration, the first Test is set to begin on Thursday, with Bashir still awaiting final clearance. Stokes hopes for a swift resolution, enabling Bashir to join, enjoy India, and fully participate in the upcoming cricket contests. The incident with Bashir serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities and hurdles faced by individuals of certain heritage backgrounds in navigating international visa processes.
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