Tight security: Entire floor reserved for Indian players

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare: Zimbabwe is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the visiting Indian cricket team does not face any safety or security hassle during its stay in the country. The Indians are in Harare for Wednesday's Group 'A' World Cup match against Zimbabwe. The organisers are fervently praying nothing untoward happens now or in the next few weeks when other teams are scheduled to play their matches. On their arrival here on Sunday, the Indians were received at the airport by Education and Sports Minister Aeneas Changadwere, who assured the team members of their safety.

Urging the team to "enjoy the splendours of the country", he also dropped in a word of caution - don't go alone late in night and put yourself in a situation which could act as a propaganda coup for the opponents of the regime. The Indian team was then collectively briefed at the hotel on precautions the players must take during its stay in the country. "Drink water only from the mineral bottle, don't touch and open any bag or go out alone in night or permit unknowns in your room. Always move in groups, beware of pick-pockets, don't talk to strangers and so on." Amrit Mathur, media manager of the Indian team, said the security drills were similar as those at other venues but here the emphasis was also on efficiency.

As part of security measures, one entire floor has been allocated for the Indian team and neither common visitors nor media is allowed access to it. There are security guards at every floor of the hotel and nobody is being allowed to enter the hotel without going through a screening. Players are accosted by security guards the moment they step on to the lift and then escorted down the lobby for whatever reason they want to be there. In case a player moves out, a security officer accompanies him.

The hotel is also teeming with plain-clothed policemen and the entire premises have been cordoned off from any common access. "The security procedures are water tight. Every player has been given an escort for his welfare," said Nick Chauhan, director of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. The Harare Sports Club ground, the venue for the match, has similar safety set-up in place and a police camp has been set up at the venue.

Armed and unarmed policemen are patrolling the area round the clock. The fact that President of the country, Robert Mugabe, lives across the street has only strengthened the security. Additional security has also been put in place to ensure people opposed to the regime don't use the occasion to demonstrate and earn worldwide audience.

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