Windies Quest - Focus on security as ODI bandwagon moves to Gujarat
Published: Monday, November 11, 2002, 21:26 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Ahmedabad: Police in the riot-torn state of Gujarat is stepping up security for three upcoming One-day Internationals between India and West Indies amid fears that Hindu-Muslim hostilities could erupt at the cricket venues.Cricketing authorities said they would also screen unruly fans from entering stadiums in Ahmedabad, Baroda and Rajkot, where the three International matches will be held -- beginning Tuesday in Rajkot."Since the state has witnessed communal riots and a terrorist attack at the Akshardham Temple, we are taking all measures to ensure the safety of spectators," Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) president Nihar Amin said."The hotels where the players will stay and the buses in which they will travel will be checked. And before the players come on the ground, it will checked thoroughly by explosives experts," said GCA executive member Hitesh Patel."As there is a security threat, spectators will not be allowed to carry food boxes, water bottles, firecrackers, radios, mobile telephones or any object which can be used to cause trouble or a stampede," he said.Officials said extra precautions would be taken in Ahmedabad the hub of the sectarian violence where the fourth tie of the seven-match One-day series will be played on Friday.They said some 1,500 armed policemen will be deployed at the city's 55,000 seat capacity Motera Stadium."We will not be taking any chances at any of the three venues and besides armed forces we would also deploy plainclothesmen at locations to spot the beginning of any trouble," a senior Gujarat state official said.Officials in Ahmedabad said the GCA, taking no chances, has also hired a Mumbai-based security agency as an extra precaution for Friday's match."About 125 private security guards and 125 volunteers will be deployed to check the tickets," said Patel.Extra precautions have also been taken to protect the pitch at the Motera Stadium, he added."But despite such security arrangements it is not possible for anyone to put a 100 per cent foolproof security. There will be always some loopholes," Patel warned.The cricketing authorities in Gujarat are also buying extra insurance cover for group injuries, players' injuries and trouble leading to suspension of play.