India vs Australia 1st ODI: Black ban at Wankhede Stadium?
It began with a tweet from a popular fan club in Mumbai, the “North Stand Gang – Wankhede”, who posted this early on during India’s ODI against Australia: “don’t wear black colour tshirts, entry restricted due to some security reasons…” The tweet went viral, and the suggestion was that a security directive banning black clothes had been given to prevent anti-CAA protests at the venue. Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) denied the allegations and soon issued a clarification. “There have been no instructions given by us or by the police authorities. There is no such ban or restriction.”
Rahul Desai, a free-lance film critic based in Mumbai, said he witnessed a few ticket-holders being turned away for wearing black t-shirts. “As we were streaming into the stadium through Gate No.5 of North Stand, we noticed some 5-6 fans being denied entry by the Mumbai Police,” said Desai. “One from my group too was in black. But we were wiser by what we were witnessing and so he draped a tri-colour on his shirt before we reached the cops and he was allowed through the turnstile.”
Desai adds that he was not aware of the black-wear ban before he reached the stadium. Additional commissioner of police (South Region) Nishith Mishra denied reports of police banning entry for spectators wearing black clothes at the Wankhede stadium. “No such thing happened. It’s a rumour,” he said. This correspondent saw many spectators in black in the stands, and could not independently confirm if there were any spectators who were turned away for wearing black.
There were protests at the venue though. A group of students carrying the message, MumbaiagainstCAA entered the Wankhede stadium, wearing regular shirts and picked their seats at the Vijay Merchant stand. Underneath their shirts, they were wearing t-shirts which read No NPR, No NRC, No CAA.
“We had it on for about half an hour or so. The police requested us to cover our layer of protest-clothing, so we put on our shirts again. We had made our point and we soon left the stadium. It was our form of silent protest,” said Fahad Ahmed, one of the students.
Earlier in the month, during the India-Sri Lanka T20 international in Assam, the police authorities had taken additional security measures by banning even placards reading “4” or “6” and banning marker pens from being carried inside the stadium.