Cricket presenter Zainab Abbas ‘leaves’ India

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Cricket apparently falls victim to a soured political relationship between the two neighbours, as internationally-famed Pakistani sports presenter Zainab Abbas has left India, where she was part of the elite corps of commentator for the ongoing Cricket World Cup.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed the development on Monday, saying that she had left because of a “personal reason” and that she had not been deported. However, some Indian media reports suggested that her departure was “necessitated by security concerns”.

The Indian reports said that the security concerns arose after a complaint was filed in Delhi last week by a local lawyer, who accused her of posting “derogatory” tweets targeting the Hindu faith in the past. The complaint was rooted in screenshots of tweets made by an account with Abbas’ name in 2014.

ICC official C Rajshekhar Rao confirmed the development. “She has left for a personal reason and was not deported,” Rao said. He declined to elaborate on the reason for her departure and did not specify if she had arrived back in Pakistan. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) declined to comment on the issue.

According to an Indian news website, lawyer Vineet Jindal had filed the cyber complaint against Abbas with New Delhi police’s cyber cell on October 4, seeking registration of case against Abbas under various sections of the law “for making disparaging remarks about Hinduism and for anti-India statements”.

Two days later, on October 7, Jindal shared a redacted version of another letter he sent to Board of Cricket Control of India Secretary Jay Shah. The letter sought action against the Pakistani presenter for her alleged anti-India remarks.

A Pakistani news channel, citing unnamed sources, said that Abbas “categorically denied the allegations” and insisted that she was “unjustly targeted”. It added that sources close to the presenter said that her past social media activity was “taken out of context” and “unrelated to her work as a presenter”.

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