Australia's IPL participation has come under scrutiny [GALLO/GETTY]
The Australian government is taking seriously threats made by India's Shiv Sena political party, a Hindu group with a history of political violence, against the Australian cricket team.

The threats were made in response to a series of attacks on Indian students in Australia, according to Australia's foreign minister.

Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray said activists would target lucrative Indian Premier League games involving Australian cricketers in Mumbai.

He did not say how the games would be targeted.

The threat highlights tensions between the two cricketing nations following attacks against Indian nationals in Australia that the Indian media are blaming on racism.

Australian authorities are denying a racist motive behind the attacks.


Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said officials from his department met with Cricket Australia, the sport's national organising body, on Thursday to discuss the threat.

"We take any threat to Australian sportsmen and sportswomen travelling overseas, or playing overseas, very seriously,'' Smith said.

More than two dozen Australian cricketers have signed contracts to play for Indian teams and the Australian team is scheduled to tour India to play the national team late this year.

Shiv Sena will "not allow Australian cricketers to step on Mumbai's soil,'' the party newspaper Saamna quoted Thackeray as saying.

"Indian students are being beaten up, shot dead and burnt alive,'' Thackeray said, adding that displays of sportsmanship between Indian and Australian cricketers were "shameful.''

Smith said Shiv Sena had a history of disrupting cricket matches and of making "colourful remarks.''

But the government would not decide whether Australian cricketers ran the risk of playing in India.

"It is, in the end, a matter for Cricket Australia, and for Australian cricketers, to determine whether they travel and play overseas,'' Smith said.

Protests over the attack take place outside the Australian High Commission in New Delhi [AFP]
Taking advice

The Australian Cricketers Association, the players' union, said it would consult with the government, Cricket Australia and independent security advisers before deciding how to treat the threat.

"We have to prepare for the worst and that's how we'll be treating it,'' association chief executive Paul Marsh told ABC radio.

"Our guys love Indian people and love going to India, so it's really unfair,'' he added.

India has asked Australia to take immediate steps to curb violence against its citizens there, warning that recent attacks could affect relations between the two countries.

The violence has been heavily publicised in India, which has millions of citizens working and studying abroad.

Last week Nitin Garg, a 21-year-old Indian-born, Australian resident was fatally stabbed in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city.

In a separate incident, another Indian man was set on fire, though he survived the attack.

Source: Agencies