Spectators, journalists, onlookers and commuters suffered due to strict security measures put in place for the Pakistan team since they arrived six days ago.
Given how Saturday’s India-Pakistan match had to be shifted from Dharamsala to the Eden Gardens based on security reasons, a no-nonsense approach has been adopted here.
The most visible part of the security provided for Pakistan is the Kolkata Police.
The policemen will not only man all the entry points of the Eden Gardens during matches and training sessions but also insist on asking journalists to switch on their laptops and photographers to shoot pictures and show it to them before letting them in.
Barricades are installed a hundred metres from each side of the Eden Gardens clubhouse on match days. All pedestrian and traffic movement are stopped 15 minutes prior to the arrival and departure of the team that comes to the Eden in two buses — one of them being a dummy. And keeping a watch on all of them are security towers built on the side of the road and the ground leading to the stadium.
When the team alights, all entry points to the Eden — except the one that leads straight to the dressing room — are sealed by the police and all spectators, scribes and at times, even some association officials are asked to wait. Apart from the cops, plain-clothed policemen are seated at different vantage points within the stadium. During the match no spectator is allowed to stand in the alleys between galleries.
No one, not even a vendor, is allowed inside without a valid accreditation card, If anyone is found loitering in a zone he is not supposed to be in, the cops promptly ask him to leave. Some plain-clothed police even came to sanitise the press box. Marking the players are commandos in black outfits, complete with state-of-the-art machine guns and wireless sets.
The players are considered most safe when inside the team hotel where security is tightest. The hotel gate has witnessed an added curtain of police protection. Inside, all floors are sanitised and the players have been advised not to go out to watch movies or for shopping. Mohammad Hafeez, however, could talk his way out of the security on Thursday for some saree shopping on Park Street but not before he was provided with an armed bodyguard to keep him safe.