India under fire over cricket move

Opposition hits out at government as security concerns force IPL tournament abroad.

    An attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan raised security fears [Reuters]

    "The government must seriously reconsider its stand and adopt a more responsible stand in national interest. India is safe, India is secure, that should be [the] stand of the government."

    Security concerns

    Security concerns have dominated the build-up to the lucrative eight-team event, which involves many international stars.

    The country was still reeling from attacks in the city of Mumbai that left more than 170 dead last November, and the assault on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in the Pakistani city of Lahore earlier this month increased concerns.

    "Due to the attitude of the government that it cannot provide security for the tournament, we are forced to take a decision to move the IPL out of India"

    Shashank Manohar,
    Indian cricket board president

    The Indian cricket board (BCCI) had revised the schedule for the Twenty20 tournament three times in an attempt to comply with the government's demands, but on Sunday they admitted defeat.

    "Due to the attitude of the government that it cannot provide security for the tournament, we are forced to take a decision to move the IPL out of India," Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, told a news conference.
       
    "We're having discussions with other boards who have shown their willingness."
       
    Cricket authorities in South Africa and England confirmed that they had been asked to look into hosting the event.

    Al Jazeera's Matt McClure, reporting from New Delhi, said: "Some observers predict there will be political fallout for the government for being unable or unwilling to provide the necessary security."

    Fans angered

    Fans hit out at the government as they staged a protest in the eastern city of Kolkata.

    "It is really a day of sorrow for us. We are thinking of not casting vote to this government or to anybody as no political party has opposed it. Today is a very bad day for me," Kamal Banerjee, one of the protesters, said.

    Your Views

    "It is very disappointing that the IPL had to be shifted, but security would have been a nightmare with the elections at the same time."

    dada, delhi, India

    Send us your views

    The tournament, which has generated more than $900m in television rights and tens of millions of dollars in advertising, is hugely popular in India and across the world.

    P Chidambaram, India's home affairs minister, said last week that the elections were "unquestionably" the first priority for the government.
      
    "I can't exempt any state government from giving to the election commission the forces they have promised," Chidambaram said. "I have also made it clear that I cannot spare any central paramilitary forces."

    More than two million security personnel will be on duty to protect more than 800,000 polling stations across the country.

    Nikhil Chopra, a former Indian cricketer, told Al Jazeera that the government had little choice but to refuse the BCCI's request.

    "I don't think any government in power would want to take any sort of chance and the government's priority would obviously be the election," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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