Cops work as official food tasters to protect players

Police are taking no chances ahead of the much-hyped clash at Mohali

New Delhi: Mar 30, 2011

Two policemen are working as official food tasters to protect the Indian and Pakistani cricket teams ahead of the World Cup semi-final clash, the Times of India reported Tuesday.

Assistant sub-inspector Rakesh Rasella and sub-inspector Ramphal, who only uses one name, have been eating three lavish meals a day at the luxury Taj hotel in Chandigarh to check for poisoning or other hygiene problems. “I have tasted more than 18 different dishes before they were consumed by cricketers and I hadn’t eaten many of them ever (before),” Rasella told the Times ahead of Wednesday’s match.

The Taj hotel offers three restaurants, including the Black Lotus that serves “the choicest Schezwan” fare, the Indian-theme Dera, and international cuisine at the “smart-casual” Cafe 17.

Security is on high alert ahead of the game in Mohali, outside Chandigarh city in the Indian state of Punjab.

The two countries have a fractious relationship, and India is still highly sensitive after ten Pakistan-based Islamist gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in 2008.

At least 2,000 police and paramilitaries — reportedly armed with anti-aircraft guns and missiles — are guarding around the venue.

Hotel rooms have been inspected in the middle of the night to weed out suspicious visitors, with police squads demanding guests to allow them to scan their luggage.