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Security was 'breached' at Kotla stadium

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | April 22, 2005 17:01 IST

When Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were shaking hands with the Indian and Pakistani cricket teams on April 17, little would they have known that a man had 'breached' the security cover and was following them.

The security agencies were supposed to have thrown up a foolproof cover for the final one-dayer of the just-concluded series between India and Pakistan, which the latter won by 159 runs.

"I saw that a man was shaking hands with the team after Musharraf and Dr Singh. I asked Shaharyar Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, if he knew the man.  'No,' came the answer. Then I asked Ranbir Singh Mahendra, president of the Board for Control of Cricket in India, and got the same answer," Arun Jaitley told rediff.com on Friday.

Jaitley said, worried, he rushed back to the pavilion to find out the antecedents of the man who had breached the security cordon and managed to reach where no other VVIP was allowed.

He was relieved to find that the man in question was Sohaib Iqbal, member of Delhi legislature!

Iqbal told Jaitley he would meet Musharraf and say hello to him. " He positioned himself at a place from where Musharraf was to get into the car. And when Musharraf came, he said 'Sir, do you remember me? I am Sohaib Iqbal, MLA, and the Naharwali Haveli [the Pakistan president's ancestral home] falls in my area, and you gave me $10,000 for looking after the old woman who had nursed you as a child'. Surprisingly Musharraf responded to him," Jaitley recalled.

When contacted, Iqbal denied he had breached the security cordon. " I am an MLA from Delhi and we enjoy certain privileges. I used that for my benefit. I did not shake hands with the two teams, but merely followed the two leaders and left the ground the moment they were finished with their job," he explained to rediff.com.

Surprisingly, the Special Protection Group, which is responsible for the PM's security did not take action against Iqbal even after the match was over. It did not even seek an explanation for his conduct.

 


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