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Wednesday, January 20, 1999 Published at 18:53 GMT

World: South Asia

Security tightened ahead of cricket tour

Cricket venues are under armed guard against attack

Security has been tightened in the Indian capital, Delhi, ahead of the arrival of the Pakistani cricket team on Thursday.

BBC Sports Correspondent Harry Peart: Both governments have decided the tour should go on
The move comes as the leader of the Hindu militant Shiv Sena party, Bal Thackeray, repeated his threat to disrupt the upcoming Pakistani tour.

"We won't disclose our plans but the truth is that Pakistan won't be allowed to play," he said during a television interview.

[ image: Equipment and trophies were damages in the attack on the Board's offices]
Equipment and trophies were damages in the attack on the Board's offices
Shiv Sena activists have already dug up the pitch at one of the match venues and were believed to be behind Monday's attack on the Bombay headquarters of the Indian cricket board. Several championship trophies won by the Indian cricket team, including the 1983 World Cup were damaged in the attack.

The board has since decided to move its offices to Calcutta.

In response the opposition Congress party staged rallies in Bombay and Delhi on Wednesday, demanding Mr Thackeray's arrest.

Suicide squad

The Shiv Sena party opposes attempts to improve India-Pakistan relations, saying Pakistan supports an Islamic insurgency in the disputed territory Kashmir. The upcoming tour will be the first time the two countries have played one another, in either country, in more than a decade.

[ image: Protesters demanding Thackeray's arrest attack an effigy of India's home minister]
Protesters demanding Thackeray's arrest attack an effigy of India's home minister
In Madras a man was hospitalized with severe burns after trying to set himself alight one man set himself in protest at the tour. According to some reports the party says it has formed a 50-member suicide squad who plan to set themselves alight in front of the prime minister's house when the first Test begins on 28 January in the southern Indian city.

Armed security has been put in place at the Test match venues in Madras and Delhi, with police saying a number of people have been taken into preventative detention.

Secret return

Security fears have also prompted officials to keep secret the name of the airport to which India's cricket team will return from their tour of New Zealand.

Officials say "all adequate arrangements" have been made with tight security surrounding both teams.

Meanwhile cricket fans in the Shiv Sena stronghold of Maharashtra were dealt another blow when cable television operators announced they would not be broadcasting the matches.

On Tuesday Pakistani cricket officials announced that the country's former Foreign Secretary Shahryar Khan would take the role of team manager for the tour because of its "very sensitive" nature.

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