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Hosts under game siege

Mohali, March 27: The world may be jostling to enter Mohali, but some of its own want out.

Many families living near the World Cup stadium have decided to leave town for a few days to avoid harassment by security forces who have taken over the township ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final.

“Even during IPL games, when film stars flock to the stadium, the roads are blocked and we are put to tremendous hardship,” said Phase X resident Shamsher Singh.

“Now, with the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers coming, not to speak of the chief ministers of Haryana and Punjab and their convoys, we fear virtual house arrest.”

Shamsher will leave for Shimla or Amritsar tomorrow with his entire family. “My ailing parents need medical care. Here, I won’t be able to take them to hospital on Wednesday if needed,” he said.

Scores of others, such as businessman Jagpreet Singh, too will be checking out of town.

“From Pratibha Patil to MPs like Lalu Prasad — and the members of the Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi Assemblies — they all want to come. Will there be any place for the aam aadmi to enjoy the game? It will be an undeclared curfew,” Jagpreet said.

Officials today confirmed that Pakistani Premier Yousaf Raza Gilani would be accompanied to India by Senate chairman Farooq Hamid Naek and Punjab governor Sardar Latif Khosa.

Mohali is already feeling the pinch of the VIP rush. Amid a terror alert from the Union home ministry, the police have cancelled all events at the township’s 12 community centres — including weddings and wedding receptions — from today till Wednesday.

On March 30, no flights apart from those carrying the Prime Minister and other VIPs, will be allowed to land in Chandigarh. The skies above Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula will be declared a no-fly zone.

National Security Guard and Special Protection Group officers, bomb squads from across the country, and army vehicles have begun arriving. Unconfirmed reports speak of anti-aircraft guns and unmanned aerial vehicles being deployed around the stadium.

“From RAW to IB (Intelligence Bureau) to the army and police, everyone is seeking passes — we may have to build a makeshift block at the stadium to accommodate their requests,” a Punjab Cricket Association official said.

“But first, we are trying to decide where the dignitaries will sit. There’s a new name every hour.”

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