Now this completely defies logic. On one hand, you wrap the hockey teams in town for the World Cup in three-tier (or is it four) security, you make sure anyone who comes within 10 feet of them has been through an exhaustive police verification process and you sanitise the team hotel — short of having food-tasters like the kings of old, you do everything else.
And on the other, you take them from the team hotel to the stadium through some of the Capital’s busiest roads in buses with huge, clear, picture-glass windows that tells the world who’s sitting inside!
Canada’s players have pointed out this major chink in the elaborate security arrangements put in place by the Delhi Police for the World Cup, saying that using the red, low-floor DTC buses with huge glass windows to transport them to and fro the hotel exposes them to possible militant attacks.
“You feel like you are actually sitting in front of people with nothing in between. In traffic, people rush to the bus and gawk at us and we feel like sitting ducks. Frankly, we don’t know whether there’s a bullet coming from any direction,” said a Canadian player.
If you go back a year to what happened in Lahore, when the Sri Lankan cricket team’s bus was attacked by terrorists, the players’ point seems very reasonable. Bullets had riddled the bus but many lives were saved because the body of the bus provided some protection.
No one knows whether it was a lack of common sense or cost cutting measures on the part of the organisers or the government, who are handling the security arrangements, but the question here is, why couldn’t someone have arranged just regular deluxe buses with tinted windows? International cricketers are transported in those and no one even knows they’re in there.
Another player said they had had similar buses with tinted glass during the Azlan Shah tournament in Kuala Lumpur last year but with police on motorcycles surrounding the bus all around, they felt a little more secure. “But with no such arrangements here, we are left totally exposed,” he said.
The Canadians have raised the issue with the security official accompanying the team and have sought an assessment by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). “We have asked him to explore the possibility of whether a RCMP official can ride in the bus with us,” said a third player.
The Delhi Police denied it had anything to do with the choice of buses. “We have got nothing to do with this. We don’t decide on buses,” a senior police official told HT. After the attack on the Lankans, the Delhi Police had suggested that bullet-proof buses be procured for transportation of players during the Commonwealth Games this October. The idea was shot down by the Delhi government.