Decision on Bangladesh tour in two days

Published: Monday, December 6, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Dhaka:A decision on whether the Indian cricket team makes the trip to Bangladesh in the wake of the death threat by a militant group would be taken within two days, a senior Indian diplomat said here today even as a security delegation flies in here to assess the security situation.

"An inter-ministerial team from India will be arriving today and will assess the security situation," said Neeta Bhushan, the first secretary in the Indian High Commission here.

"It will take a day or two to know their assessment. I hope we will be able to know something by tomorrow," she said.

A militant group, which identified itself as Harkat-ul Zihadi, threatened to kill the Indian cricketers if they toured the country in a letter they wrote to the Indian High Commission.

The Bangladeshi media, however, were giving little or no credence to the threat with the leading Daily Star newspaper giving a single column to the whole episode.

Most of the similar threats, including a recent one to the World Bank representative in Dhaka, Christina Wallich, had turned out to be a hoax.

The threat letter, addressed to High Commissioner Veena Sikri, had many spelling mistakes and was signed by 'Harakatul Jahad'.

The letter even had a wrong address, as it mentioned Dhanmandi area instead of its current location in Gulshan diplomatic area.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zohirul Haque told reporters late last night that the Government had assured the Indian High Commission of "highest possible" security to the cricketers.

"We are also investigating whether the message is a real threat or a hoax," he said.

The New Age newspaper, quoting an unidentified top official of a Government intelligence outfit, said the letter was not faxed or e-mailed, but was sent by either post or courier.

The High Commission has not preserved the envelope, the official said.

"We have launched an investigation to find out the criminals," he said.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has said they did not feel any reason for the Indian tour to be put off as the Government had already ensured top security.

The Indian team, earlier scheduled to arrive here tomorrow, will make the trip only if the security team gives an all-clear report to the Indian Government.

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