Mumbai: For the match in Mohali on Wednesday, the city hosted over 3,000 guests from across the border. The visitors from Pakistan had come to the country hoping they would see their team go on to win the World Cup. They had bought tickets online for both the semi and the grand finale on Saturday.
Wednesday's outcome when India beat the boys in green took the wind out of their enthusiasm to stay on until the finals. They want to go home now, but they still have the tickets. And these 3,000-odd tickets are up for grabs
Their possessors want to sell them in black, revealed highly placed sources. The black market sales came to light because of intelligence agencies that were tracking every movement of these foreigners since the time they set afoot on the nation's soil.
"The I-Branch of Special Branch1 was tailing an estimated 3,000 Pakistani cricket fans who had entered the country," said an intelligence source. "They were selling tickets for the World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka in the black market."
Clearly, the city police did not want to take any chances in the wake of intel inputs of a major terror threat to the city, ahead of the match that is critical for reasons that go well beyond pure sports.
So way before the Cup reached its concluding stages, the government had decided to issue a total of 3,000 visas to foreigners, a majority of whom were Pakistani and Bangladeshi, and asked agencies to keep a tab on them. The foreigners were given a 15-day multiple entry visa.
The I-Branch and Intelligence Bureau was entrusted with the responsibility of getting details of and keeping a tab on their movements from the moment they entered the city, their mode of transport, place of stay, and other details.
"The act of selling tickets in black market is not posing any security threat to the country. But it certainly amounts to fraud," said a senior police officer.
For obvious security concerns, the sleuths had insisted that the online ticket holders be physically present to collect their passes from the venue itself, so they can be screened.
To make the procedure more secure, the Pakistanis were asked to collect their passes by Wednesday or latest by Thursday. They also had to register themselves with the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office within 24 hours of their arrival.
Meanwhile, the Pakistanis found a novel ploy to cash in on the crazy demand for the tickets.
Rigorous scrutiny by the intelligence agencies brought forth that a majority of the Pakistani cricket fans approached their friends and relatives in Mumbai, who could collect the tickets on their behalf, so they could sell the tickets at least eight to nine times the printed price.
"Once the tickets were collected they could be sold in the black market," the source said.
But their money-spinner has now been thwarted as Indian agencies have the names and e-mail addresses through which the tickets were booked.
It would not take long for officials to identify a proxy or a stand-in when they come to collect the tickets, informed a senior IPS officer.
Addl CP Madhukar Gavit, in-charge of SB1, was unavailable for comment. Police spokesperson DCP Rajkumar Vhatkar said he was not aware of Pakistanis selling their e-tickets in the black market.
Bookies' odds for an Indian victory
Bookies' odds for a Sri Lankan victory