The reported threat by a top terrorist to target foreign teams participating in this month’s Hockey World Cup in Delhi has forced New Zealand to hold back its team’s departure. Australia, England and Canada have sought assessment of the threat.
That the threat came on the heels of the blast in Pune has created more uncertainty. All teams, however, said original plans for the tournament stand pending advice from their respective governments.
India doesn’t think they have cause for concern. “All security will be provided to the players,” Home Minister P. Chidambaram said in Jammu on Wednesday. “No one will be allowed to dictate terms to us.”
Hockey India too reaffirmed that India is safe for the teams.
Ilyas Kashmiri, chief of the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islam, had on Tuesday warned the global community to stay away from the hockey tourney as well as the IPL and Commonwealth Games.
“When we make a plan, it takes all threats into consideration and is continuously fine-tuned on the basis of emerging threats,” a Home Ministry official said.
The ministry has already deployed 200 central force commandos for the event, in addition to existing Delhi Police reserves. Meanwhile, representatives from the high commissions of countries participating in the Hockey World Cup will be attending a final briefing in New Delhi on Friday.
“While Hockey New Zealand still plans for the Black Sticks men’s team to attend the World Cup , it has decided to keep the team in Perth until further notice,” it said in a release.
The team, in Perth for two matches against Australia, is scheduled to leave for New Delhi on Feb 22.
“We have been monitoring the situation all along. But events over the past 24 hours have led us to reassess the situation,” Hockey New Zealand CEO Hilary Poole said.
“Until further advice, our plans remain unchanged. This information will be received prior to the team departure,” Hockey Australia said.
Pakistan is sending a two-member recce team to India to assess security arrangements and has the Indian government's nod.
“The delegation leaves for India on Feb 19,” a Pakistan government source said in Lahore.