Pakistan eves arrive in Cuttack

Amid tight security, Pakistan team arrived here to participate in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup and proceeded straight to Cuttack, which is one of the venues for the tournament along with Mumbai.

“The Pakistani women players were safely taken straight to the Barabati stadium at Cuttack where they will be staying and playing. There was absolutely no sign of protest anywhere, neither at the airport nor at the stadium,” Commissioner of Police Sunil Roy said.

Though a handful of activists of little-known Utkal Bharat gathered near the airport in their bid to stage a protest, they dispersed after being asked by securitymen to move away.

The Biju Patnaik Airport and surrounding areas had been converted into a fortress with deployment of security personnel in strength in view of threat by Sangh Parivar outfits and local parties to prevent the Pakistani players from touching base in Odisha.

Around 600 security personnel, including jawans of Special Security Battalion (SSB) and Odisha police, had positioned themselves at vantage points to prevent any untoward incident, police said.

Ahead of the Pakistan team’s arrival, city police had taken about 10 activists of Utkal Bharat, including former MP Kharvel Swain, into custody as a precautionary measure. The police picked up Swain and others while they were on their way to the Biju Patnaik Airport here.

“The Pakistan women’s cricket team has been accommodated at the OCA Club premises and will play all their matches at the Barabati Stadium, Cuttack,” OCA Secretary Ashirbad Behera said.

They would play their warm up matches with Odisha Women’s XI likely on January 29 and 30.

 “Security of players from three other countries is not a problem. We have taken extra precautions to ensure security of Pakistani players,” DGP Prakash Mishra told reporters.

The Pakistan team, according to the schedule issued by the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA), will play their first match against Australia on February 1 followed by matches against New Zealand on February 3 and South Africa on February 5.

New Zealand and South Africa will meet at the DRIEMS Ground in Cuttack on Februray 1.

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