The Delhi and District Cricket Association’s high court-appointed administrator, Justice Vikramajit Sen, has hit out at police and municipal officials in New Delhi, accusing them of putting obstacles and using “arm-twisting tactics” to obtain extra passes for the India-New Zealand T20 game at Ferozshah Kotla on November 1.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Justice (retd) Sen, said that hours before the toss, the SDMC locked up the kitchen where the players’ dinner was being prepared. “The players’ kitchen was closed for two hours because they didn’t get enough passes… only after the extra passes were issued (at around 3.25 pm), were the players’ kitchen doors opened,” he said.
Justice Sen said that CCTV footage shows Delhi Police allowing ticketless entry, which resulted in the stadium getting filled beyond capacity for the game, which was the final international match of Delhi bowler Ashish Nehra.
According to Sen, Delhi traffic police didn’t allow entry of catering trucks because “they were upset with the number of passes” given. “This was not a case of helping (in conducting the match) but a case of obstruction,” Justice Sen said.
Days before the game, Delhi’s traffic department issued just 60 car parking passes instead of the 250 that DDCA usually gets. When Justice Sen wrote to police about the reduction in car passes, they issued passes for garbage trucks and another 20 for ambulances.
“One of the main obstacles was how difficult some of the (government) organisations were, especially police. We have got footage to show that they actually opened the gates during the game to let people in. It was a security hazard because an international match was taking place. They just kept demanding passes but how many can you give?” Justice Sen said.
”(Government departments) must realise that they have a job to do and don’t have greater rights than other citizens and if citizens of Delhi are not allowed passes why they should take it and in enormous numbers. The tactics they employ are most unfortunate and somebody has to wake up and say this is not permissible,” he said.
The DDCA administrator said he has listed his charges in a letter to Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. The DDCA website, which has a break-up of complimentary tickets distributed, shows that Delhi Police got 650 free passes, 20 of which were for the hospitality lounge while SDMC collected 56, including six with lounge access.
The demand of complimentary passes was so high, said Justice Sen, that he got calls from MPs and judges. “I told them it was contrary to the court order and they immediately said ‘ok’. I also asked what if your names come on the website, would you like that?” he said.
In his letter to the police commissioner, Sen alleged that certain officers posted at Gate 2 of the Kotla allowed entry to over 50 people on three different occasions without frisking them. A more serious offence he listed was that several accredited police officers were watching the match instead of monitoring security.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Justice Sen said he was weighing the option of not involving Delhi Police for games at Kotla. “Next time I am going to say that the police should not be there at all. I mean they should be there just for security reasons,” he said.
Justice Sen said that former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi, who was a special invitee, was stopped at the gates for the game. “Even Bedi was not allowed through the gate, but these fellows (police) just opened the gate for unauthorised people. Bedi, who was to felicitate Nehra, was not allowed in by the police. He is such an aged person and if he was standing there, what do you do? We got to know when somebody told us… when we went rushing there, we saw this poor gentleman standing outside,” he said.
”When Delhi hosts a Test match in December there will be no cricket lovers left in the city,” said Justice Sen.
Reacting to the allegations, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central), M S Randhawa, said, “At all the entrance gates, employees of PayTM were posted and they were allowing entry after scanning bar codes. We were not giving entry to anyone, and everything is there on CCTV.”
Asked about the allotment of car passes to DDCA, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Garima Bhatnagar, said, “We follow an institutionalised process, keeping in view the emerging traffic congestion for better traffic circulation.”
A senior SDMC official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied Justice Sen’s charges and said that “no such thing happened”.