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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Indian Premier League 2009 Out Of India Amidst Security Fears

After the attacks in Pakistan on the Sri Lankan cricket team, Lalit Modi of the Indian Premier League seemed sure that the upcoming season could remain in India. But the current IPL season due to start April 10th and finish May 11th clashes with general lower house elections taking place in 28 states between April 16th and May 13th. The IPL submitted three different schedules to the Home Ministry but the Federal Home Minister has now declared that he cannot deploy enough security personnel to cover the cricket as well as the polling.

After the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, India cannot afford another largescale international incident and election poll security is in itself proving a headache for the government. 2.1 million security personnel and 4 million civilian officials will be deployed. In Andhra Pradesh alone, cover is needed for 66,ooo polling stations, up from 54,000 polls in 2004 at the last election. Polling takes place in five phases on five different days round the country.

India says that whereas 70%of the polls had uniformed personnel protection in 2004, it wants 100% coverage this time.

Tarique Ghaffur, former UK Metropolitan Police Security Chief, told me exclusively today,

'Soft targets like sport and hotels are now part of global terrorism. This provides an unprecedented demand stretch on security forces. I know the BCCI and the IPL will take security seriously given current threats and risks.'

Of the four possible venues outside India being discussed by the IPL, Dubai has taken itself out of the running, which leaves the UK, South Africa, and one other, thought to be in the Gulf. That result will be announced, the IPL has said, by Monday evening.

In Andhra Pradesh, around 10-15,000 members of the National Cadet Corps are being used for the very first time to help with security, an indication of just how stretched security services are.

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