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Specially-abled fan Dharamveer Pal denied accreditation as ball-boy for upcoming matches

Dharamveer showed up at the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA)’s office ahead of the India vs New Zealand, 1st ODI but returned empty-handed.

Dharamveer Baghel
Dharamveer Baghel with Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Dharamveer Pal, the widely-recognised polio-afflicted fan of the Indian cricket team who has been a regular feature near the boundary line for years, won’t be able to function as a ball-boy anymore. It has been made clear that he will be free to sit in the stands and cheer the game, however, he can no longer be a boundary-rider.

It is learnt that the decision was made after increasing criticism on social media and on email for using the services of a specially-abled person. Subsequently, the Indian cricket board has sent a circular to all staging associations to not use such a person as a ball-boy.

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He is recognized by many Indian players. During his farewell Test match in Mumbai in 2013, Sachin Tendulkar took time out to meet with Dharamveer and Sudhir Kumar Gautam, the fan who paints his body in the colours of the Indian flag, and told them to keep supporting cricket. Yuvraj Singh too has often expressed the need to encourage these fans. However, during the recently-concluded series against Australia, the BCCI was mentioned in tweets questioning the decision to employ a polio-affected person as ball-boy.

BCCI GM reacts

BCCI general manager Ratnakar Shetty has now advised all state associations hosting the upcoming matches for the New Zealand series and also the Sri Lanka series next month, to not give accreditation to differently-abled boys to be ball-boys.

“It has been reported that physically handicapped boys are being used as ball-boys during the international matches by the state units and we have been criticised for the same,” Shetty wrote in his letter, as reported by The Sunday Express.

He added, “You are advised not to issue ground access pass to any physically handicapped person as ball-boys. They should be given proper seating in the stands allocated.”

It has also been learnt that Dharamveer showed up at the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA)’s Wankhede Stadium office ahead of the India vs New Zealand, 1st ODI but had to return empty-handed as the MCA denied him accreditation. However, he was given a ticket to watch the team play from the stands.

“I went to MCA and I was told that I won’t get the pass. I got a ticket from an Indian player. Mujhe match dekhne se matlab hai. (I just want to watch the match), be it from the boundary rope or from the stands. I tried to ask MCA why they are not issuing a pass and I was told that there is some new BCCI rule. I have no complaint — whatever name I have earned in India is because of cricket. I have been cheering the Indian team for years now and will continue to do so,” Dharamveer said.

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