New Delhi:The three-Test ban on Harbhajan Singh evoked a strong reaction from the BCCI and former cricketers, who described it as totally "unjustified and unfair" but advised against the Indian team abandoning the remaining matches in Australia.
The off-spinner was on Sunday night banned after the ICC Match Referee Mike Procter upheld the Australian charge that he had racially abused their all-rounder Andrew Symonds.
Former India captain Kapil Dev said he was totally surprised by the news of Harbhajan Singh being banned.
"It is a surprising and unfair. The Indian team is one of the most gentle teams in the world," Kapil Dev said.
Another former India captain Kris Srikkanth denounce the decision and said it was unfortunate that he was punished but said the Indian team should continue their Australian tour.
"We should not take this drastic step (of abandoning the tour) but instead should fight hard in the next matches," he said.
Another former captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi also advised Indian team against cancelling their next engagements in the tour.
"I think we should not forfeit the series. He (Harbhajan) requires moral support from the team, BCCI and from the country. He should appeal against the ban," he said.
Former Test opener Navjot Singh Sidhu, however, was livid with the decision and said if necessary Indian team should return home.
Meanwhile, BCCI Vice-President Rajiv Shukla said they had not yet received any communication from the International Cricket Council regarding the ban.
"Nothing has been communicated to us yet. But if a ban is imposed, we will appeal against it within 24 hours. Harbhajan will appeal and the BCCI will also appeal," Shukla said.
BCCI's Chief Administrative Manager Ratnakar Shetty said it was an "unfortunate" development.
"There was no evidence against Harbhajan so I don't know how they could arrive at such a conclusion," he said.
"My son is innocent"
Harbhajan Singh's mother Avtar Kaur on Sunday said her son was innocent and wondered why he was being targeted after the off-spinner was slapped with a three-match ban for allegedly hurling a racial abuse at Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds.
Kaur said if anything was wrong then both the players-- Singh and Symonds--should be punished.
Kaur said it appeared that Symonds also said something abusive against Singh during their altercation on the third day in the second test of the cricket match in Sydney.
Harbhajan's sister Sandeep Kaur said the family is feeling "bad" especially when action was being taken against him without any reason.
Sandeep said her brother had spoken to her mother to say he had not said anything racial against Symonds when the ICC had decided to summon Singh for a hearing.
Singh has stoutly denied saying anything racial against Symonds during their run-in.
She said the family was happy that the Indian team management was fully backing Singh and strongly taking up his case.
(With PTI inputs)