Police throws security blanket around players
Indian police have increased security ahead of Sunday's one-day match between New Zealand and Australia, although authorities said there was no specific threat against the cricketers.india Updated: Nov 07, 2003 18:56 IST
Indian police have increased security ahead of Sunday's one-day match between New Zealand and Australia, although authorities said there was no specific threat against the cricketers.
The police have thrown a tight security blanket around the New Zealand team, which arrived here Friday morning, 24 hours ahead of Australia.
"There's no specific threat against the cricketers, but the central authorities have alerted us against terrorist groups that might focus on the cricket teams or an international match," Pallab Bhattacharjee, head of police operations, told reporters Friday. "Gawahati's police and paramilitary forces have been put on high alert ahead of this cricket match," he said.
Bhattacharjee said more than 5,000 security personnel have been deployed at the stadium, the two hotels where the teams will be staying and on roads leading to the ground.
"We're not paranoid, there are precautionary steps against troublemakers," Bhattacharjee said.
The strong police contingent guarding the ground and hotels includes riot police and paramilitary commandos, who Friday surrounded the arena when New Zealand held a practice session.
Between facing his pace bowlers in the nets, New Zealand's amused skipper Stephen Fleming threw glances at the police, who swarmed the Nehru Stadium brandishing automatic guns and pistols.
New Zealand's cricketers and umpires are staying at the Landmark Hotel inside the stadium complex, which Friday resembled a police camp. The Black Caps will spend 3 1/2 days in Gawahati, which has been witness to several militant attacks during the past decade.
The Kiwis flew in from the eastern city of Cuttack, where they defeated host India by four wickets to stay in the hunt for a place in the tri-series final.
The Australians, who are already assured of a place in the Nov. 18 final, have been practicing in New Delhi for three days and will reach here Saturday.
The police Friday began frisking visitors at a hotel, on the banks of the Brahmaputra river, where the Australian team will stay.
"The cricketers and fans visiting the players or the stadium will pass through extensive security checks, but it's part of our effort to ensure that cricket goes off peacefully," Bhattacharjee said.