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December 2, 2002 | 1450 IST

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Indians fined for entering NZ
with dirty shoes

Two Indian cricketers were on Monday fined by New Zealand's Ministry of Agriculture for arriving in the country with dirty shoes, the Indian team management confirmed.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and batsman Virender Sehwag were hit with 200 NZ (100 US) dollar instant fines for their undeclared dirty footwear as the Indian team flew in to Auckland.

New Zealand, one of the world's leading agricultural exporters, is particularly sensitive to bio security in the wake of the foot and mouth and mad cow disease outbreaks.

New Zealand also fears the tropical fruit fly and currently much of Auckland city is each morning being sprayed from the air after painted apple moth got into the country accidentally, threatening the timber industry.

Harbhajan Singh and Sehwag could have contested the instant fine but run the risk of a 200,000 dollar fine if found guilty in court.

Indian manager N R Chaudhry said that they were not upset over the event, saying, "these things happen".

Numerous travellers are caught despite warnings. Airlines flying into the country are required to show an in-flight agriculture video and the arrival form carries extensive warnings.

Harbhajan Singh and Sehwag are not the first sportsmen caught: members of the Australian rugby league team copped instant fines earlier this year for identical offences.

If the two men had declared their shoes they would have been taken off them, cleaned at New Zealand taxpayer expense, and returned to them.

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