India to issue multi-city visas to Pak fans for WT20 matches

New Delhi: India will issue multi-city short-term visas to Pakistani cricket fans willing to watch their team play during the forthcoming World Twenty20 tournament, including a high-voltage rescheduled match against the hosts in Kolkata.

A Pakistani fan. Pic/AFP
A Pakistani fan. Pic/AFP

"We are willing to issue multi-city visa if Pakistani fans have tickets and accommodation for all cities in which Pakistan is going to play," a senior Home Ministry official said.

The travel document will be issued when the Pakistani spectators furnish tickets of matches, return tickets for road or rail or air transport and accommodation bookings. India will take biometrics of all Pakistani fans who will be given visas, the official said.

Even through number of visas were earlier restricted to 250 per venue, Home Ministry is willing to issue additional visas if more Pakistanis apply for the travel document.

The period of visa will also depend on tickets of how many matches one can furnish. India has relaxed rules by exempting Pakistani fans aged above 65 years from reporting before a police station. "Current visa policy for Pakistani spectators is more liberal than before," the official said.

Those fans who got visas for Dharamshala will have to approach Indian missions in Pakistan again as the venue has been changed. The match will now be played in Kolkata. However, the official indicated that the number of visas to Pakistani spectators will be increased if the team reaches semi-finals or final.

A strict vigil will be maintained by security agencies on Pakistani spectators as there have been several instances in the past when some of the visitors went missing, the official said.

The Pakistani team is scheduled to play against India in Kolkata on March 19. The visitors will also play another match at the same venue on March 16 against an opponent to be decided during the qualifying matches.

Pakistan will play two matches in Mohali, Punjab -- against New Zealand on March 22 and against Australia on March 25.

The semi-finals of the World Twenty20 cricket tournament will be held in New Delhi on March 30 and in Mumbai a day later. The final will be played in Kolkata on April 3. The tournament's qualifying matches have began on Tuesday.

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