Updated: October 17, 2015 11:04:47 am
Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel on Friday threatened to prevent India and South Africa teams from reaching the stadium for the ODI match in Rajkot. He alleged that the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) had sold tickets to BJP workers, who will protest during the match and then blame it on his community. The SCA said tickets sold were accounted for and documented.
In a video message, shared on social media, Hardik, convernor of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), alleged ‘irregularities’ in sale of tickets by the cricket association for the ODI match to be played on SCA Stadium in Khanderi village, on the outskirts of the city this Sunday.
“Saurashtra Cricket Association should clarify why they declared that all tickets are sold in spite of the fact that many tickets remain unsold. PAAS will block the way of both the teams (India and South Africa) to the stadium (on the match day) and we will also gherao the entire stadium,” said Hardik. PAAS is one of the groups leading the agitation by the Patidars or the Patel community in Gujarat demanding status of Other Backward Classes (OBC) and resultant reservation benefits in government jobs and admissions to institutes of higher education.
Best of Express Premium
The 22-year-old leader further alleged that SCA had sold tickets to BJP workers but his community-members were denied the same. “I request them to declare the details of tickets sold because we believe that SCA has given all the match tickets to the BJP people. They will create trouble during the match and later blame it on Patidars,” Hardik said in the video which was played by local TV news channels.
His allegations came hours after SCA closed its ticket windows at the Madhavrao Scindia Ground in Race Course on Friday afternoon. The SCA said that all the tickets had been sold. This irked cricket fans, who were standing in queue. They vented their anger by damaging barricades and hoardings.
Talking to The Indian Express, Dinesh Patel of PAAS said, “It is BJP’s ploy to create ruckus inside the stadium and then hold Patidars responsible for the same. They (BJP) said that the match should not be made a ground for playing politics. Now, who is making it a ground to play politics?” said Dinesh, adding thousands of Patidars will gather in Rajkot on Sunday.
Incidentally, Hardik and other leaders of the agitation have repeatedly announced that they will use the day-night match between India and South Africa as a platform to send a message across the world about their stir by protesting during the match from stands. But it is for the first time that Hardik has threatened to disrupt the match.
SCA, on the advice of police, have made it mandatory for cricket enthusiasts to furnish an ID proof to get a ticket for the match. Cricket teams of India and South Africa landed in Rajkot on Thursday afternoon. They remained in hotel-rooms on Friday but are scheduled to practice on Saturday.
Two tickets per person
But Niranjan Shah, honourary secretary of SCA said Hardik’s allegations were unfounded. “I am not going to respond to these baseless allegations. We ensured transparency when it came to selling tickets. We had to stop selling tickets through windows and we could only sell 2,000 odd tickets as each buyer had to submit identity proof.
We sold some 3,000 tickets online. The maximum number of tickets each person can buy is two. We have distributed tickets to our districts and affiliated units. The rest of the tickets we are issuing to people who we know,” Shah said.
The stadium in Khanderi has a seating capacity of around 29,000 and SCA had announced earlier that some 24,000 tickets will be available to general public.
“I still request, please don’t bring politics to the cricket field. It could have repercussions. Saurashtra might not hold any games in future if any kind of ruckus takes place. We have a record of each ticket sold and those who bought a ticket did so after submitting an ID proof,” said Shah.
Meanwhile, deputy inspector general (DIG) of police of Rajkot range, DR Patel said elaborate security arrangements have been made for the match. He said that five SPs, 24 DySP and 32 police inspectors will lead a force of around 2,000 policemen including three companies of the state reserve police and one company of Rapid Action Force.
The entire stadium will be under CCTV surveillance and video camera surveillance. In addition, three unmanned aerial vehicles will keep watch on the stadium from the skies, he said.
Surat PAAS co-convenor Nikhil Sawani said, “We have purchased 500 tickets online and will be going for the match. Besides 2500 Patidars will stand outside the stadium, and if those with tickets are not allowed, we will enter the stadium half naked. Over 8,000 T-shirts with slogans of ‘Jay Sardar, Jay Patidar’ have been printed in Rajkot and it would be distributed freely outside the stadium to Patidar Patels.”
📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.