India v South Africa, 4th ODI, Kolkata November 24, 2005

Kolkata police on high alert


Security officials in Kolkata hope that this will be the extent of protests in the city, and nothing worse © Getty Images

Fearing protests against Kiran More, the Indian selection committee chairman, and Greg Chappell, India's coach, following Sourav Ganguly's exclusion from the Indian team for the one-day match against South Africa in Kolkata on November 25, the authorities are taking no chances with the security situation.

"All police stations have been asked to be on alert," said NR Babu, deputy commissioner (south) of Kolkata police. Both More and Chappell are now in the city. In 1996, India's World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka could not be completed due to crowd disturbances and Sri Lanka were declared winners.

Crowd violence again erupted during the Asian Cricket Test championship outing between India and Pakistan in 1999 and the last few minutes of the game had to be played before empty stands after police used force to clear the galleries. Asked if special security would be provided to Chappell, who has been specially targetted during the protests, Prasun Mukherjee, Kolkata's police commissioner, said his men would be fully alert to any eventuality.

Meanwhile, a thick security blanket has been thrown around the two teams, both at the hotel and the match venue, with the deployment of a large number of commandos, armed policemen, detective department sleuths, plainclothes cops and women police personnel. Commandos are escorting and trailing the buses of the two teams on their journey from the hotel to the Eden Gardens, with around 2000 policemen lining the entire route.

The police have virtually taken over the team's hotel, where three to four commandos have been deployed on each floor. Eden Gardens has been put under a multi-layered security ring, with Mukherjee announcing that nearly 4,000 police personnel, including top police officers, would be deployed in and around the stadium.

Mukherjee, who inspected Eden Gardens yesterday, said police would make arrests in the event of any demonstration inside the venue during the match."Those wanting to hold any such demonstration should better keep off the stadium and also the match, otherwise such acts will prompt the police to make arrests," he said.