While the international cricket world cup may still be a month away, the men in khakhi are busy brushing up their bowling and batting skills. Reason:
The ongoing ‘Cricket for Peace’ — an initiative wherein policemen and citizens play together.
Explaining how the tournament works, V Tambe, police inspector from VB Nagar police station, said, “Every cricket team — comprising eleven players — shall compulsorily have two policemen, in addition to four players from the minority community.
In the first round, every police station in the zone plays against each other, till we have 12 teams representing the 12 zones.
Then the 12 teams play against each other, till one team wins the ‘Citizen for Peace’ cup. The final is to be held on January 29.”
The initiative was started by former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro to facilitate communication between the police and locals.
Ribeiro explained, “Cricket is a game followed so passionately, that people forget their caste, community and social standing while participating in it.
We had stared the ‘Cricket for Peace’ initiative 15 years ago to bring down the communal tension and improve police-people communication. Till date, it remains popular.”
He added, “We try to organise it especially in the poorer and riot-infected areas and ensure that people of both communities along with the policemen are a part of each team.
Once these games are over, we expect the boys participating to help us should any communal tension arise in their locality in future.”
Senior police inspector of Kurla, V Bagwe, who was the captain of the Kurla team and the opening batsman, said, “Such initiatives also give us a break from the regular routine. We are all very competitive on the field. However, at end of the day we know it’s about having fun.”