Visas for Pak cricket lovers on production of return tickets

New Delhi: The Government may issue a multi-city visa to Pakistani cricket lovers planning to witness the forthcoming cricket series beginning December 25 if they provide tickets of the matches and return ticket besides having an Indian sponsor.

A committee formed within the Union Home Ministry has suggested that tickets to the venue and the return tickets would ensure regulating the visiting Pakistani cricket lovers, official sources said.

Union Home Ministry, while giving a go ahead for Indo-Pak cricket series, had conveyed to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that it would have to strictly abide by the rules framed for allowing Pakistani spectators to enter into India.

The move comes in the wake of reports of security agencies that as many as 12 Pakistanis had not returned after the 2007 cricket series besides the interrogation of American born Lashker-e-Taiba terrorist David Headley who had told the US investigators that wanted terrorist Sajid Mir had visited Mohali and the national capital as a cricket fan during which he had surveyed important installations including National Defence College.

The Home Ministry has made it mandatory for each Pakistani cricket fan intending to witness the forthcoming cricket series beginning December 25 to have a local sponsor to get visa.

The Home Ministry will also seek advance list of special guests of Pakistan cricket board who will be issued multi-city visa, the sources said.

The visa applicants will also have to attach a copy of the ticket purchased to watch the series that would comprise three ODIs and two Twenty20 Internationals between December 25, this year and January 6, next year. The ODI matches will be played in Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi and the Twenty20 games in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

The Home Ministry also discussed the finer points of monitoring Pakistani spectators with the state governments of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Gujarat and the Delhi Police and briefed them about various security related issues during the cricket series.

In July, the BCCI had decided to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan by inviting the neighbouring country for a short series in December 2012-January 2013, to be sandwiched between the Test and ODI legs of the England team`s tour of India.

The arch-rivals have not played a bilateral series since Pakistan`s tour of India in 2007 after cricket ties were snapped following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his then Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani had watched the high-profile World Cup semi-final in Mohali last year.


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