The fate of the India-Pakistan World T20 match scheduled in Dharamsala on March 19 still hangs in balance as the Indian security establishment mulls steps to be taken for the safety of Pakistan fans who may travel for the game, sources told HT.
“First of all, according to the assessment of security agencies, the match cannot take place without the presence of central forces. Secondly, we’ll have to ensure the security of Pakistan cricket fans as well. Any minor scuffle with one spectator might lead to an embarrassing situation. All these issues are to be kept in mind before a final call is taken,” said a senior government official requesting anonymity.
MK Singla, special secretary (internal security) in the home ministry, will hold a meeting with all stakeholders in this regard on Tuesday.
A two-member Pakistan team reached Dharamsala by road on Monday for security assessment. The director of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, Usman Anwar, and Pakistan Cricket Board chief security officer, Col (retd) Azam Khan arrived via the Wagah border. Ubaid Nazamani, an official in the Pakistan high commission in Delhi, joined them. Anwar is also part of the six-member security team constituted to probe the Pathankot attacks. The security officials had to wait for four hours at Wagah as Khan initially had permission only for air travel.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh has indicated the centre is ready to provide paramilitary forces after Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh expressed inability to provide security citing opposition by ex-servicemen to Pakistan playing in Dharamsala.
However, following a PIL in the Himachal high court, the state government assured the court it would provide security cover for the match.
A HPCA official, who didn’t want to be named, said the team first met local SP Sanjeev Gandhi. “They inspected the route which the team will take from their hotel to the venue and also discussed the security cover being provided by the police while the team is in transit. The security team inspected the pavilion and the dressing room before holding a meeting with top HPCA officials,” the official added. BCCI’s director, cricket operations, MV Sridhar, attended the meeting, which lasted over three hours.
The Pakistan security team will brief the PCB and Pakistani interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan and submit a report before the cricket team is cleared to travel to India.