Terrorism Comes to Cricket

The terrorist threat towards cricket moved a step closer recently after Indian players Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar were advised of a plot by Kashmiri separatists to kidnap them in order to further the cause of muslims in the endeavour to have Kashmir declared independant of India.

Long the bane of India - Pakistan relations, Kashmir, claimed by both Indian and Pakistani interests has been a hot-bed of turmoil since Pakistan was declared an independant state form India in 1947. Presently ruled over by India, but with a majority population of muslims, Kashmir is regularly the scene of terrorist activity by groups purporting to be fighting for the freedom of Kashmir and often with the backing of political interests from Pakistan. Regular military border clashes have become more frequent over past years as groups within Kashmir escalate actions in order to bludgeon India into allowing the disputed state to become Independant.

Most recently a separatist group known as Jaish-i-Muhammad and one of its most active members, former British schoolboy Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, are suspected to have been the instigators of the plot to kidnap Ganguly and Tendulkar. Further, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and his group are the prime suspects in the recent kidnapping of US journalist Daniel Pearl, who during a recent visit to Pakistan for a story he was working on, was kidnapped by so called friendly guides who have sympathies with the Kashmiri separatist group.

Indian intelligence officials, immediately upon receiving the threat to kidnap the two cricketers, implemented security precautions to minimise the risk and at one stage around 2,000 police officers were utilised in order to guarantee the safety of both Ganguly and Tendulkar. Although threats towards Indian cricketers are often common place, the fact the most recent threats came from the Jaish-i-Muhammad group were taken much more seriously than the daily procession of lunatics who threaten all types of actions against Indian cricketers for many and varied reasons. The group has been linked to a number of terrorist incidents in both India and Kashmir with a number of bombings and attacks on both Indian and US interests attributed to the group. The fact this group was now turning its attention to India's elite cricketers was not one which Indian officials were prepared to dismiss.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who at one stage attended Forest School in Snaresbrook, England with Nasser Hussain, the current England team captain, is presently being hunted far and wide by a number of Government agencies both inside and outside of India and although the threat to Indian cricketers may not have met its eventuality on this occassion, there is no doubt it is only a matter of time before the lunatic groups that fight for the independance cause in Kashmir, will once again turn their attentions to cricket due to its high profile in Indian society, culture and world media.


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