India in Bangladesh 2004-05 December 6, 2004

India's tour of Bangladesh delayed

Cricinfo staff

Increased security: police outside Dhaka's Bangabandhu National Stadium © AFP
The Indian squad's departure to Bangladesh has been delayed by at least one day after a radical Islamic group issued death threats to the players. The Indian cricket board received a letter from government agencies instructing them not to leave until at least December 8.

A five-man security team, including officials from the home ministry, foreign ministry and the cricket board, rushed to Dhaka on Monday to assess the situation. "The threat could be a hoax," KVS Katoch, an official of India's home ministry, explained to reporters.

The letter, from a hitherto unknown Islamic group, Harkat-ul-Jihad, threatened to kill players in revenge for riots in Gujarat three years ago. It was delivered to the Indian embassy in Dhaka last week.

A spokesman at the Bangladesh high commission said the threats were a hoax and the Bangladesh Cricket Board insisted the tour would go ahead. "The so-called Harkat-ul-Jihad does not exist in Bangladesh," explained Lutfuzzaman Babar, Bangladesh's minister for home affairs. "Someone has sent the letter to tarnish Bangladesh's image ... no-one should worry about the security of the Indian team."

Newspapers in Bangladesh were equally dismissive of the threat.

India are scheduled to play two Tests and three one-day internationals in Bangladesh. The first Test, at Dhaka, begins on December 9, although unless India leave on Tuesday it is unlikely that the game would start on time.