Malda: A women's football match which featured members of the Indian national women's football team and Arjuna awardees was cancelled by the local administration following “orders from the top”.
The match which was supposed to happen on 14th March was cancelled last week when some Muslims of the area objected to the women playing it, said the Block Development Officer (BDO) adding that the administration succumbed to the pressure from the maulvis.
The BDO, Biplab Roy, of Harishchandrapur, Malda said, “When I came to know about the local opposition, I referred the matter to the SP and the DM, and the local police station. The order came from the top that the match should be cancelled and I acted accordingly in the interest of peace and tranquility and public order, said the BDO in an interview to Indian Express daily.
The cancellation of the seven-a-side exhibition match has sent shock waves across the district which has a sizeable Muslim population and triggered outrage elsewhere.
Match was cancelled after the maulvis of Chandipur village in Harishchandrapur Block-I issued a fatwa against it. It was to be played on the fields of the local girls' higher secondary school and was intended to encourage women to take interest in football.
Reza Razi, president of the Progressive Youth Club of Harishchandrapur who is also one of the chief organizers of the match told that the match was cancelled at the last moment on Friday when some of the players had already arrived in Malda.
He told that some local Muslim maulvis and villagers got together and protested against the match saying that it would have adverse affect on the local girls and the women folk.
Some of them raised the issue of the clothes that the women players would be wearing, and some said that this sort of sport was against the Shariat,” Reza said.
Reza, being a Muslim himself tried to convince the maulvis along with some other sports enthusiasts but in vain.
“What was wrong in having a women's football match in the village?” Reza asked.
He said that he asked the local administration to help in holding the match but the administration cancelled it citing law and order issues. He told that the administration succumbed to the pressure of the maulvis and the fatwa.
Reza further said that now, being a member of the Malda District Sports Association, they are sending a complaint to the body.
The friendly match was to be played between Kolkata side and North Bengal side players. India-level players were supposed to play alongside upcoming young women footballers. Shanti Aich Mullick, women's World Cupper and 1983 Arjuna Awardee, said, “I was supposed to participate in the event.”
Mullick further told that the women players did not ask for money to play the match as they wanted to promote the game.
“I can't imagine such a thing happened in the 21st century,” she said.
Some renowned national level women players like Sujata Kar, Rezina Khatun, Nausaba Alam and Minati Das were supposed to participate in the match.
Some local villagers indicated that the balance tilted towards the maulvis after Trinamool Congress leaders from the area threw their weight behind them.