Bomb squad combs match venue


Police bomb squad officers and sniffer dogs searched 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.
The Indian government has said it will issue a record number of 3,000 visas to Pakistani fans attending 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. 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 New Delhi in 1999 ahead of an India-Pakistan Test although the match did go ahead.
Cricket has been used in the past to mend diplomatic ties, with the prime ministers of both nations symbolically shaking hands as they watched their teams in the semi-final of last year’s World Cup in the northern Indian city of Mohali. But the prospects of a diplomatic dividend this time round appear slim and there has been no announcement of a visit by a Pakistani leader for any match. Ties were further strained on a trip to New Delhi by Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik this month, when he compared the Mumbai attacks to the 1992 razing of a mosque by a Hindu mob which sparked a wave of sectarian violence.
Boria Majumdar, a Kolkata-based academic and sports historian, said there was little reason to expect that the resumption of cricketing ties would herald any wider political thaw between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Schedule: Pakistan in India 2012-13
Dec 25: 1st Twenty20 international, Bangalore (d/n)
Dec 28: 2nd Twenty20 international, Ahmedabad (Motera) (d/n)
Dec 30: 1st ODI, Chennai (d/n)
Jan 3: 2nd ODI, Kolkata (d/n)
Jan 6 3rd ODI, Delhi (d/n)