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India ‘absolutely ready’ for Oct 3 Games
New Delhi, Sept 20 (IANS):
Published on 20 Sep. 2010 11:15 PM IST
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A day after unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets on two Taiwanese tourists in the national capital, India said Monday it was "now absolutely ready" for the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games and was aiming for "perfection" in infrastructure and services.
Indian authorities also stressed that the country was a safe destination and the security of tourists is of utmost importance to the government.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday called on President Pratibha Patil and discussed the Jammu and Kashmir situation and preparations for the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games.
The meeting lasted for about 45 minutes, a communique from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
"The two leaders (also) discussed the just concluded state visit of the president to Cambodia and Laos," said the statement.
"They also discussed about matters pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir situation, leftwing extremism, food storage facility, rehabilitation of cloud-burst victims in Leh, Commonwealth Games and various issues of national and international importance," the statement said. With barely two weeks to go for the Commonwealth Games, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit Monday reviewed the preparations and said the city was "now absolutely ready".
Endorsement also came from Australia's Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA) chief Perry Crosswhite. He dismissed speculation that the shooting incident near the Jama Masjid in the city's old quarters was linked to the mega-event.
Crosswhite and some other AGCA officials are in Delhi to oversee the state of the Games' Village and the security situation before the nation's 600-strong contingent of athletes and officials start arriving Sep 23.
However, Australia's federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib said the government's advice remained for people in Delhi "to exercise a high degree of caution". Arbib himself is set to attend the Games.
The Australian government also updated its travel advisory for India and the Commonwealth Games. Britain followed suit and warned its citizens about possible terror attacks in New Delhi but Taiwan underplayed the shooting of two of its citizens in the city a day earlier.
Indian Mujahideen, a terrorist organisation is suspected to be involved in the Jama Masjid shooting. It also warned of further attacks in Delhi and Mumbai.
Terming Sunday's attack a "show of desperation" to "create panic", Tourism Minister Kumari Selja appealed "to tourists and the tourism fraternity not to panic by such stray incidents as India is a safe destination and safety and security of tourists is utmost concern of the government".
"Investigating agencies are at work to bring the culprits to book," she said in a statement issued here.
A home ministry official also stressed that the incident would have no impact on the security plans for the Commonwealth Games.
"The Jama Masjid incident have no impact on the security preparations for the CWG. We have informed officials of foreign countries about the incident and the follow-up measures," a senior home ministry official told IANS.
"Several countries have made inquiries through their channels - security consultants and agencies,," the official said, adding that India was "not ruling out any possibility and taking any incident lightly".
He said the ministry and security agencies have begun a "24x7 monitoring exercise " regarding the CWG, where inputs from the police and security agencies were constantly reviewed and analysed.
"We are anticipating several red herrings and incidents to create a scare and fears before CWG. So far, there have been on direct threats to the Games based on any actionable intelligence," he said.
Visiting the injured in the hospital, Ko Chang and Ku Ze Wei, both in their 20s, Dikshit asked people to remain alert and not panic, especially as the incident comes just 15 days ahead of the games.
"I have spoken to the Delhi Police Commissioner to strengthen security arrangements so that there is foolproof security during the Games," she said.
"As the city is now absolutely ready to host an international sports event, it is the need of the hour to keep a close eye on newly-developed infrastructure, greenery, street lights, street-scaping, high mast lights and other vital civic services to ensure constant perfection," she added.
Some 7,000 participants and officials from 71 countries and territories are expected to attend the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games, India's biggest sporting event after the 1982 Asian Games.

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