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Team India gets death threat, tour to Bangla under cloud

Team India gets death threat, tour to Bangla under cloud

Author: Nadeem Qadir
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 6, 2004

The BCCI has deferred the departure of the Indian cricket team to Bangladesh for a two-Test tour after its players were issued a death threat by little-known Harkat-ul-Zihad in a letter to the Indian High Commission here.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) said it did not give any credence to the threat but, in Kolkata, BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra said the team's departure, scheduled for Tuesday, has been postponed following a letter from the Centre.

"We have received a letter from the government asking us not to send the team before December 8," said Mahendra.

Sports Minister Sunil Dutt said in New Delhi that his ministry has asked the BCCI to "hold on till the government takes a decision on the tour."

Officials of the Indian External Affairs Ministry and the BCCI are flying to Dhaka tomorrow to assess the situation.

India's Deputy High Commissioner S Chakraborty said they had received a letter from the group stating that they would kill the Indian cricketers if they toured the country.

"The trip (by the Indian cricket team) appears quite uncertain at the moment because the BCCI would have to decide if they feel safe to come to Bangladesh following this threat," he said, adding that the threat could not be ignored.

Chakraborty said the fate of the tour would depend on the outcome of the review of the situation by both sides. "We want this tour to go ahead."

He said the High Commission had informed the Bangladesh government about the threat and they had ensured fool-proof security to ensure the tour goes on.

But skipper Sourav Ganguly said it was for the government and the BCCI to decide whether the tour should go ahead.

"It would not be proper for me to make a statement on this issue. Whatever decision is taken by the government and the board, we will follow it," Ganguly said.

BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla said the Board had been apprised of the threat and it was for the government to take a stand. "Whatever decision the government takes, we will abide by it."

India is slated to play two Test matches and three One-Dayers during the 22-day tour starting on December 9.

In Dhaka, a BCB official Reazuddinal-Mamun told a press conference that he did not see any reason for India to call off the tour.

"The letter (by the militant group) has wrong English. We do not think it should be given any credence. We look forward to welcoming the Indian team," he said.

BCB president Ali Azghar said a letter had already been sent to the Indian cricket, board ensuring tight security for the series.

"We have written that BCB takes full responsibility for the series. We have said that these type of threats usually turn out to be misleading and fake and should not spoil the series," he said.

"The government has assured that security would be beefed-up to ensure the tour goes on,"

Ali Azghar said.

-- (PTI)

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