IPL 2018: Politicians, film fraternity to protest CSK-KKR match in Chennai over Cauvery issue; over 4,000 cops deployed
The call to boycott IPL matches in the city has been tacitly supported by many high-profile politicians in the state, including Opposition leader and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam working president MK Stalin
Chennai: With the Cauvery issue spilling over to the cricket pitch, heavy security arrangements have been made in and around MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. This comes ahead of Chennai Super Kings' maiden match in their home city since their two-year-long suspension from the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Over 4,000 policemen have been deployed around the stadium under the command of Chennai Commissioner of Police AK Viswanathan. This includes 13 deputy commissioners, seven additional deputy commissioners, 29 assistant commissioners, and 100 police inspectors, in addition to one commando unit and four Rapid Action Force teams.
Protests against the delay over setting up of Cauvery Management Board (CMB), as directed by the Supreme Court, have taken the form of a huge row. Leaders from across Tamil Nadu have been demanding that matches should not be held in Chennai until the Centre listens to their demands.
The police also arrested 10 persons belonging to Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi on Tuesday morning near the stadium, after they tried to lock the main gate of the stadium. The protesters managed to reach the stadium using the MRTS train service even as all roads leading up to the stadium were shut until 5 pm.
The state government has chosen to take a diplomatic stance by putting the onus on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to decide if the matches need to be moved to a new venue. Fisheries minister D Jayakumar questioned on Monday if the matches were important. He said that BCCI had been informed on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government that the mood in the state may not be right for cricket but the board has decided to go ahead anyway. "But it is the state government's duty to protect the players and this will be done," Jayakumar said.
The call to boycott IPL matches in the city has been tacitly supported by many high-profile politicians in the state, including Opposition leader and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam working president MK Stalin, leader of the newly-minted Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam TTV Dhinakaran, Naam Tamilar Katchi supremo Seeman, and most recently, Rajinikanth, who considered it was inappropriate to host a celebration like IPL when the whole state was agitating.
Rajinikanth hoped IPL players and fans would bring attention to the issue by wearing black and sporting black bands. Many pro-Tamil groups in the state have taken this call more seriously, threatening to disrupt proceedings, should BCCI went ahead with the matches scheduled to be held in the city. Tuesday’s match against Kolkata Knight Riders is first of the seven home matches to be played in MA Chidambaram stadium. The film fraternity has also come out in support of a boycott.
Senior police officers headed by commissioner Viswanathan have inspected the stadium in Chepauk to identify problem zones that demand higher police presence and put in place precautions to prevent any untoward incidents.
Additionally, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association said in a statement on Monday that besides firecrackers, inflammable materials and firearms, spectators would not be allowed to carry bags, mobile phones, briefcases, pagers, radios, digital diaries, laptops, computers, tape-recorders, binoculars, remote control devices, remote control car-keys or any other electronic devices. However, a tweet from Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday announced that mobile phones will indeed be allowed inside the stadium.
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) April 10, 2018
Activists and film fraternity to protest outside venue
Meanwhile, activists and politicians from different outfits and members of the film fraternity who expressed support to boycott IPL matches in Chennai came together for a strategy meeting. Prominent faces like Seeman, AIADMK’s U Thaniyarasu and Thamimum Ansari, actor Karunas, Cauvery Rights Retrieval Forum leader P Maniyarasan, poet Vairamuthu and film directors P Bharathiraja, V Gowthaman, Thangar Bachan and Ameer Sultan were part of this meet.
The meeting was a precursor to the protests they plan to take out against the match in the evening. Addressing journalists after this meeting, they said, "We are not saying we don't want cricket. We just want our sentiments to be respected and the matches postponed." They demanded institution of the CMB and said state BJP leaders like Pon Radhakrishnan and Tamilisai Soundararajan must support Tamils in this cause. Ameer Sultan asked that they be allowed to protest at the venue peacefully to show their resentment towards the central government.
A joint statement issued later by the group said they will boycott all IPL matches and start a protest march towards MA Chidambaram stadium at 5 pm, when the premises officially opens for spectators. They would all come together under a 'Tamil Nadu flag' that carries symbols of the ancient Chola, Chera and Pandya dynasties and the words 'Victory to Tamil'. Though police have said that only those with valid tickets will be allowed near the stadium, it is understood that many hoping to protest the match have obtained tickets and will try to enter the venue. Reports suggested that workers of the Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi who had started assembling at Anna Salai to start their protest were being taken into custody by the police.
Abdul Kathar Mydeen is Chennai-based freelance journalist and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters
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