The lucrative Indian Premier League suffered a major setback Friday after the Home Ministry withheld security clearance for the event despite organisers submitting a revised playing schedule.
|The effects of the attack in Pakistan are still being felt across the subcontinent [AFP]
The Home Ministry told IPL officials it "may not be feasible to play matches as per the submitted schedule'' due to a shortage of central security forces, which will be busy safeguarding the country's general elections at the same time.
The IPL is scheduled to be held from April 10 to May 24, while the elections for the Indian Parliament's lower house will take place across the country in five different phases between April 16 and May 13.
Tournament organisers had altered their original match schedule after federal interior minister Palaniappan Chidambaram cited security problems due to the clash between the elections and the IPL.
Even the revised match schedule, which sought to keep matches away from a city or state on the polling dates there, did not secure the Home Ministry's approval.
After a video conference involving the interior ministry and senior police officials of seven states that are scheduled to host matches, the Home Ministry asked IPL officials to again redraw the schedule.
"IPL organisers have been advised to accommodate the concerns of various state governments and draw up a revised schedule and submit the same to the Home Ministry,'' a statement of the interior ministry said Thursday.
The Press Trust of India said the Home Ministry had rejected even the revised schedule submitted by IPL officials as states now wanted central security forces for the matches.
Players and officials have openly expressed reservations about playing in the subcontinent after the recent terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, Pakistan.
Seven Sri Lankan test players, an assistant coach and a match officials were among those injured in the deadly ambush by gunmen as the team traveled to a cricket arena.
Six policemen and a driver in the convoy taking players and officials to the match were killed.
International Cricket Council match referee Chris Broad of England and Australian umpire Simon Taufel were among the harshest critics of the security planning in Lahore.
They were in a van travelling behind the Sri Lankan team bus when the convoy was attacked between the official hotel and the stadium.
The Lahore attacks have forced IPL organisers to undertake a detailed assessment of the security arrangements.
The IPL has promised to take charge of all player security arrangements for the six-week event.
Federation of International Cricketers' Associations chief Tim May has said that it had conducted a survey that indicated a large majority of foreign IPL players wanted security beefed up.