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Friday, January 8, 1999 Published at 16:34 GMT

World: South Asia

Hindu militants warned off

Taking guard against disruption in Calcutta

The government in the Indian state of West Bengal has said Hindu militants opposed to the forthcoming tour by the Pakistani cricket team will not be allowed to disrupt the Test match in Calcutta.

BBC Delhi Correspondent Mike Wooldridge: An act of vandalism by Shiv Sena supporters executed remarkably easily
The state's Police Minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharya, said that if Hindu groups tried to sabotage the matches in Calcutta they could expect to be attacked by thousands of the city's sports fans.

On Thursday, Shiv Sena supporters vandalised the pitch at Delhi's Feroz Kotla stadium in an effort to stop the first Test taking place on 28 January.

Following the incident, a senior Pakistan cricket official will be sent to India next week to assess the situation. Brigadier Saeed Rafi, a member of the cricket board's council, will talk to Pakistani High Commission officials and Indian authorities before submitting his report.

[ image: The pitch in Delhi was spoiled using iron rods]
The pitch in Delhi was spoiled using iron rods
In an earlier statement, Indian Home Secretary BP Singh, who is in charge of the country's internal security, gave reassurances that nothing would stand in the way of the match being played.

"The crucial match will be held peacefully and with full attendance," Mr Singh said, adding that India would provide "adequate security to foil any attempt to disrupt the Pakistani tour".

Pakistan captain-designate Wasim Akram also insisted the tour should not be cancelled.

"It's very sad to hear that some people are bent upon mixing sports and politics," Wasim said.

"We are going there to better the relations between the two countries and I hope the Indian Government will not allow a handful of people to deprive cricket lovers of some action-packed and tension-packed cricket."

'Minimal' damage

Despite initial reports that it could take up to two weeks to restore the pitch to playing condition, Delhi cricket secretary Sunil Dev said the damage was "minimal and repairable" and was confident the wicket would be ready in time.

Police have tightened security around the Kotla ground and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has ordered other centres staging matches against Pakistan to do the same.

This is the first Test series between the two neighbours for 13 years.

1991 tour cancelled

Shiv Sena has sought for years to thwart sporting and cultural links between India and Pakistan.

It has said it will "go to any extent" to prevent the tour.

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