The world of cricket has lost innocence today, agrees India's best-known cricket historian and thinker Ramchandra Guha.
Talking exclusively to rediff.com, after Tuesday's terror attack on Sri Lanka's cricket team in Lahore, Guha, the author of Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History Of A British Sport, said, "I am horrified. Cricketers are sportsmen. They are entertainers. They are un-political people. An act of terrorism is politically motivated by the people for their perceived or real grievances.
"It is bad enough to kill innocent civilians, but to kill sportsmen is the most despicable act, because sportsmen are entertaining people. We watch them for their esthetic beauty; we see in them sportsman's spirit. It's a shocking event!"
Guha said the attack is bound to jeopardize the 2011 World Cup, to be jointly hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Explaining the repercussions of Tuesday's attack, in a telephonic interview from Bangalore, he said, "Today's event is very puzzling. One can think of LTTE and Taliban behind the attack, but again these are cricketers. May be, Taliban is interested in general instability. But why Sri Lankans? The Sri Lankans stepped into Indian shoes when the Indian team refused to tour Pakistan. It was a non-political and gentlemanly act of the Sri Lankan side to come forward to play in Pakistan."
He said terror attacks on sportsmen are nothing new. It happened at the Munich Olympics, where Israeli sportsmen were attacked.
"But the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers defies rationale and even irrational logic. Pakistan is victim of sectarian and other kinds of violence since long. One has seen Shia-Sunni riots, Taliban versus military conflict and Balochs versus foreigners. We have heard about Americans being kidnapped, but this attack defies logic, completely. This attack is absolutely frightening."
Guha added: "We all know how in 1996 Australia and West Indies refused to play in Sri Lanka, but India and Pakistan went there and played an exhibition match as a combined in a show of solidarity.
"Cricket in this part of world is not only non-political, it has a healing touch. How can you attack cricketers?"
He went on to severely condemn statements by Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari and a television channel anchor's allegation that Pakistan is a banana republic.
Tiwari said that Pakistan is Somalia of South Asia.
"I think Tiwari's statement is a pre-emptive statement coming at election time. It will be deeply sad if India gets into rhetoric. Intellectuals and media should be careful in what they say. We are living in a fragile neighbourhood. We must resist doing absurd analysis. On Pakistan's side it is obvious that their support to Jihad in Kashmir, their act of legitimizing it has helped grow such elements within their society, which is engulfing them now, as it happened in [Jarnail Singh] Bhindranwale's case in India."