The Junior Hockey World Cup will kick-start on Friday at the National Stadium here, but the event is still awaiting security cover from the Delhi Police.
Hockey India secretary Narinder Batra admitted the organisers were clueless about the issue. “We have arranged for a big contingent of private security personnel at the stadium but there has been no communication from the Delhi Police so far. We have already had meetings with everyone concerned – from police officers to officials in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The MHA has said it is still waiting for some clearance from the Intelligence Bureau but has not got back to us so far,” Mr. Batra said on the sidelines of the unveiling of the championship trophy.
It may be remembered that protests from the Shiv Sena earlier this year had forced Hockey India to send back nine Pakistani players participating in the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL). Pakistan is one of the teams in the Junior World Cup and Mr. Batra said the threat perception this time too was very real given the scale of the tournament.‘International event’
“This is an international event and you don’t need a confirmed threat to get security. Even a small issue will explode internationally. But the police say they are busy with elections and I don’t think they care about the teams,” he added.
He also said that this was not the first time authorities had created hurdles for Hockey India.
During the HIL, the federation had a run-in with the Sports Authority of India regarding movement of equipment. “The government doesn’t support us here and the police always harass us. We pay Rs.14 lakh as rent for this stadium and still face obstacles. If the rest of my Board supports me, I would not like to bring any hockey event to Delhi after the World League Round Four in January,” Mr. Batra added.
The New Delhi District Police, under whose jurisdiction the stadium falls, said they would perform crowd management at the venue on match days. However, the organisers have maintained that their real worry is the safety of players during their stay in the hotels and during the travel to and from the stadium. The Hindu tried to contact senior Delhi Police officers, including those from the security wing, but they were either unavailable or refused to speak on the subject.