Australian media team hires ex-military men

New Delhi : Travel advisories cautioning against terror attacks in India have prompted Australia’s 120-member media team for the Commonwealth Games to hire former military personnel from Down Under to keep them updated about “happenings and possible threats”.

The Australian media pooled in money and hired two private security men to provide them information about possible terror alerts. The security men stationed in Delhi maintain up-to-date information on happenings in India and also screen media clippings here and abroad.

“These men had worked with the Australian military. They maintain a database of all mediapersons who have come in India for covering the Games. They SMS us information about the happenings in the city on a regular interval,” Margie McDonald, a journalist with The Australian, told IANS.

According to Margie, all members of the Australian media keep these men updated about their location.

“At regular intervals I tell them about my location. I came here Sunday (Sep 26) and went to see the Taj Mahal in Agra and the whole day I kept them posted about my location and environment,” said the 54-year-old woman journalist.

The Australian media has been told not to disclose information about their movements and local stay in Delhi.

“I am anxious after the advisory but not scared and will avoid visiting public places alone or walking by myself. Had I been scared, I would not have come to India. I have spoken to at least 100 Australian players and all of them are satisfied with the arrangements at the Games Village,” said Margie, who has also covered the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.

Another Australian journalist, who did not wish to be named, said: “We came to know about the advisory and are a bit worried but I think you have to face such things whenever you are in another country. We are taking all caution.”

“My family got very worried after the Jama Masjid shooting incident in the capital but that does not mean I would miss the Commonwealth Games coverage,” he said.

The Australian high commission in New Delhi Wednesday reissued travel advice and cautioned against possible terror attacks, civil unrest or political tension “surrounding the verdict in the contentious Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid court case Sep 30”.

“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times…Terrorist attacks could occur at any time anywhere in India with little or no warning,” it said.

About the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games, the Australian advisory said there was “a high risk of terrorist attack in New Delhi”.

“We continue to receive reporting that terrorists plan to attack public places, including hotels and tourist locations, in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities.”

“Australians in New Delhi should be aware that the Commonwealth Games will be held in a security environment where there is a high risk of terrorism.”

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