Tension prevailed outside Hyderabad’s Gymkhana ground Thursday morning after the police resorted to a mild baton charge to disperse the swelling crowd that had queued up to buy tickets for a T20I match. The incident left seven injured.
Owing to lack of clarity over sale of offline tickets, fans had gathered outside Gymkhana ground in large numbers and had barged into the premises even on Wednesday. Police personnel were deployed and the fans had to return empty handed after a few association representatives said Paytm would start selling offline tickets from Thursday.
After nearly three years, Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is hosting an international cricket match for the first time and will serve as the venue for the third T20 international match between India and Australia on September 25.
On Thursday, scores of cricket enthusiasts lined up outside the gates of Gymkhana ground from the early hours. By 10 am, when the ticket sales were about to begin, fans who had been waiting for a long time lost patience and barged into the ground by pushing open the gates.
When the fans were told that only two tickets would be made available per person and tickets for only certain stands were on sale at the moment, things went out of hand. This led to a stampede-like situation while the police present at the venue used their batons to disperse the crowd. The scuffle led to a few fans and at least two police personnel getting injured. Some reportedly fainted and collapsed on the road and had to be taken to hospitals.
While some angry fans raised slogans against the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), some others alleged corruption and mismanagement. The fans also rued failure of the HCA in arranging basic facilities like drinking water or shelters from the rain. HCA officials are yet to respond to the claims.
When the situation appeared to go out of hand amid rumours on social media and TV channels about the alleged death of a fan, Joint Commissioner of Police (special branch) P Viswa Prasad had to clarify that there was no death in the incident. The police said five civilians and two police personnel were injured and were safe and are undergoing treatment.
The number of ticket counters are being increased after the incident, the police added.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, DCP (North) Chandana Deepti said, “No one is critical. Four civilians were taken to the hospital for first-aid.”
“One woman had fainted and one of our woman police constables gave her CPR and she recovered immediately. Probably this was shown as the death of a person. It is false. The woman is alright now,” Deepti added.
The DCP further said, “Approximately 10,000 people had gathered outside the ticket counters in the morning (Thursday). Some of them had reached last night. It started to rain when the fans had queued up for the tickets and this could have led to a stampede. HCA should have arranged for more ticket counters. We will assess the situation and take necessary action.”
A few hours after the incident, Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) president and former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin met with Telangana sports minister V Srinivas Goud. He said a report on the incident from the association’s side will be submitted to the government and the minister has already told them what to do and what not to.
“We are holding a match. It is not easy. It is not like sitting here and talking…There are times, we are going to have problems here and there. What happened today is very unfortunate. I am with the people who are injured. We have done nothing wrong,” he told reporters, stressing that he is 59-years-old and not a child.
He further added, “I know people want to watch the game. There are only so many people who can watch, beyond that you cannot. Sometimes you cannot. We are trying our best.”
Azharuddin reminded all that Hyderabad is hosting a match after several years and assured that all details regarding sale of tickets and arrangements for the upcoming match will be shared through a press conference Friday.
The sale of online tickets, priced between Rs 850 and Rs 10,000, started on September 15 via the Paytm app and Paytm insider website. While people can book their tickets online, they still have to collect their physical tickets to enter the stadium on match day. Authorities had informed that those who booked their tickets online could pick up their physical tickets from Secunderabad Gymkhana ground between 10 am and 5 pm from September 22 to 25, while offline tickets would also be available for sale at the same venue.
Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at Uppal has a seating capacity of 55,000 and is a regular venue for Indian Premier League matches. It is also the home ground of the IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad. The last international match played here was a T20I match between India and West Indies in December 2019.