World News – Police bomb squad officers and sniffer dogs combed Bangalore stadium Monday as part of a massive security operation for the start of the first Pakistan cricket tour to India for five years.
Hardline Indian nationalist organisations including Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena have both threatened to hold protests outside all the venues for the five-match series which begins in Bangalore on Tuesday evening.
Thousands of Pakistani fans have been allowed to travel to India for the series – the first since the 2008 Mumbai attacks which led to a complete breakdown in relations between the two countries.
“As the governments of both the countries have agreed to hold the bilateral series, no organisation will be allowed to disrupt the match,” Bangalore police commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji told reporters on the eve of the first match.
An AFP reporter saw bomb squad officers carrying out a painstaking inspection with their dogs in and around the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, the capital of the southeastern state of Karnataka.
As many as 5,000 security personnel, including a 100-member bomb squad, have been deployed to cover the match, fearing attempts to disrupt the game or even stage an attack.
Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist party based in Mumbai, has branded the tour a “national shame” and accused Indian cricket authorities of “betraying the country for sake of money”.
The same organisation dug up the wicket at the Feroz Shah Kotla cricket ground in the capital New Delhi in 1999 ahead of an India-Pakistan Test although the match did go ahead.
The Indian government has issued a record number of 3,000 visas to fans from Pakistan attending the series. AFP