Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Indian govt beefs up security


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NEW DELHI – Indian authorities have deployed nearly 100 000 police officers in the streets of New Delhi, put fighter jets on standby and even brought in langur monkeys to help protect the largest international sporting event ever held here.
Though several athletes pulled out because of security concerns following a recent shooting at a tourist site, Indian officials said they were confident they could foil any plan to attack the Commonwealth Games or the capital.
“(We have) no concerns, no cause for panic. We have elaborate security arrangements and we are ready to meet any kind of eventuality,” New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said.
Those plans were complicated by a court verdict scheduled for todayin a 60-year-old Hindu-Muslim conflict that is one of the nation’s most combustible issues. The conflict over a holy site in the city of Ayodhya has caused thousands of deaths over the years and the government has committed massive police resources to preventing a new outbreak of violence.
Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said that would have no impact on protecting the Commonwealth Games, which begin Sunday with about 7 000 athletes from 71 countries and territories.
“I can assure you, notwithstanding the difficulties, we will provide foolproof security at the games venues and at the games village,” he said.
While these games have been troubled by behind-schedule preparations and complaints about the cleanliness of the athletes’ village, fears about security have also been a factor, with India a constant target for terrorists.
A November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai that killed 166 people and a February bombing at a popular café in the city of Pune that killed 16 people heightened the concerns. Sporting events have also been targeted, with a bomb blast at an Indian Premier League cricket match in April that wounded 14 and an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in neighbouring Pakistan last year giving many athletes pause about whether to attend these games.
Australia issued a new travel warning yesterday that “the Commonwealth Games will be held in a security environment where there is a high risk of terrorism”. (AP)


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