India’s Tamil Nadu state has said it will not host Indian Premier League games with Sri Lankan players, amid anger over Colombo’s rights record.
Chief Minister Jayalalitha announced the decision in a letter to the PM. The Indian Premier League said teams taking part were being told of the move.
Players from around the world compete in the world’s richest cricket league.
Thirteen Sri Lankans are signed up to play in the nine-team Twenty20 tournament, which begins on 3 April.
They include Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga, Tilakratne Dilshan and Ajantha Mendis.
Ten Indian Premier League (IPL) games are scheduled to be played in Chennai (Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu. Chennai Super Kings, one of the top franchises, has two Sri Lankans.
Last week the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution highly critical of Sri Lanka’s human rights record. The government in Colombo rejects allegations of abuses.
Sri Lanka’s army defeated separatist Tamil rebels after a brutal 26-year war in 2009, but it is the final phase of that war which has come under most scrutiny by rights activists.
Potential for aggravation
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ms Jayalalitha said people in Tamil Nadu had been angered by “barbaric acts” against Sri Lankan Tamils.
Her government therefore felt that “IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu”.
Ms Jayalalitha said her government would permit IPL matches to go ahead in Tamil Nadu “only if organisers provide an undertaking that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff would participate in these matches”.
She said that people in Tamil Nadu were disturbed by alleged human rights violations and the systematic killing of people of Tamil ethnicity in Sri Lanka, and that if the Sri Lankans played in the state, it would “aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere”.
In a statement on Tuesday, IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla said that the security of all involved in the tournament, “whether players, spectators or those working in the stadiums, is of paramount importance”.
"The [IPL] Governing Council decided that Sri Lankan players will not participate in the Pepsi IPL 2013 League matches in Chennai and will advise the nine franchises accordingly," it said.
On Monday, Indian cricket board chief N Srinivasan said “every state in India is safe for playing cricket.”
"I cannot predict anything, but these are operational matters," Mr Srinivasan told the NDTV news channel.
Ajith Jayasekara, chief of Sri Lanka cricket, told the station that players were being kept informed of developments.
Earlier this month, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu withdrew from India’s governing coalition over its failure to condemn alleged atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils.
There have been protests in the state over the treatment of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority.