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West Indies vice captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, who is tipped to be Guyana’s captain for the 2003 Red Stripe Bowl, is pleading with the Guyana Indian Heritage Association (GIHA), to leave him out of politics and allow him to prepare mentally for the job of playing for his country and the region.
Sarwan was responding to statements in a media release by GIHA that he had given his word to play in a match organized by that organization.
The West Indies vice captain was selected to captain Demerara in a GIHA organised Jahaji cricket festival against Berbice but missed the game because he was in the United States of America and unable to return home in time.
The organisers of the match subsequently called on Sarwan and the Arjune brothers Vishal and Krishna to make a public apology for not participating.
When contacted by Stabroek Sport the stylish batsman said that he had already made public his views on the issue and considers it closed. “I already said that I do not support anything that divides us as a people and right now I want to focus on my cricket.”
The GIHA release states among other things that Sarwan gave every assurance that he would be in Guyana for the match.
The GIHA press release also slammed the government for using Indians only to gain office. “There is so much confusion in Guyana about being Indian and so much of it is fostered by a government that continues to use Indians to gain office and little else.” It continues, “None of the team from Berbice or Demerara who played in the match was creating division in Guyana but simply playing cricket with their brothers. If Indians are not allowed as a people to congregate or to celebrate their heritage, history and ties of brotherhood in Guyana, then the PPP government needs to make a clear statement on this issue and quickly,” the release stated.
“GIHA suggested the 6th of September - the date on which Bourda was also available - and he [Sarwan] promptly agreed, giving every assurance that he would be back in time for the match,” the release said.
Sarwan in response admitted that in principle he had agreed to participate in the match but insisted that he was not told `everything’ about the `nature’ of the game and “did not know the organizers were involved in politics”
He added, “I have an inter county final to play on Sunday and then the Red Stripe Bowl and West Indies tours of Zimbabwe and South Africa to prepare for, so I don’t have time for getting involved in politics.”
The stylish right-hander concluded by saying that he considers the issue closed. “I don’t have anything else to say about the matter!” Responding to the release Information Liaison to the President Robert Persaud told Stabroek Sport that GIHA’s statements about the government were simply aimed at getting publicity.
According to Persaud the GIHA’s accusations do not warrant a response. He added that the government has already spoken on the issue and reaffirms what it has said about that organisation seeking to `divide’ Guyanese.
Persaud stressed that as a member of the PPP he feels that anyone including cricketers, has a right to participate or not to participate in any activity they wish and he will fight to protect that right, when it comes under threat by anyone or any organisation.