They were playing a cricket match in Bhadkal Lake on Sunday morning. Only eight overs had been bowled when Haryana Tourism officials and the Haryana police stepped in to stop the event. Natural Heritage First, the NGO, which organized the match with support from Publicis India Limited, is not happy.
“The objective was to raise public awareness about the condition of a 2-billion-year old lake having gone dry. The cricket match was an attempt to help us reflect on the havoc we have wreaked on our natural heritage,” Diwan Singh, a member of Natural Heritage First, said.
No reason was given to explain why the match was stopped.
“Only eight overs had been bowled when some locals appeared on the scene assisted by officials of Haryana Tourism. They asked us to stop the match, saying this was not the way to highlight the lake’s poor condition,” Diwan Singh said.
“Our policemen must have visited the spot,” Jai Krishen, in-charge, Ankhir police station said. “We stopped the match because it was being played on the lake’s bed. We requested them to play in a nearby lawn or playground,” U.S. Bharadwaj, a senior Haryana Tourism Corporation officer, said.
“How can officials allow cricket to be played in the lake?” he said. “Our officials simply requested them to play somewhere else.”
Samir, one of the players, alleged tourism officials had incited the locals. “We were playing when suddenly we saw a huge group of people and tourism officials rushing towards us. Our organizer was ordered to stop the match immediately,” Samir said.
“I failed to understand what happened. Some locals asked us not to play as it would give a bad name to Bhadkal Lake and the tourism department,” another player, who identified himself as Rashid Khan of Bhadkal, said.
The organizers of the match alleged the Tourism officials even confiscated some of their items, including banners hung in the area.
“It’s sad that the police decided to side with the Tourism officials and asked us to stop match,” Diwan Singh told HT. “We were left with no option but to stop the match.”