Helicopter and 4,000 cops secure Chepauk for IPL 2018 match, Cauvery protesters chased away
Massive security cover thrown around Chennai’s Chepauk stadium as 4,000 policemen — many in riot gear — stand guard.Updated: Apr 10, 2018, 20:39 IST
Protests against Indian Premier League matches in Chennai intensified in the city amid raging Cauvery demonstrations on Tuesday as the Chepauk readied to host a match between the Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata Knight Riders.
All roads leading to the stadium came under a blanket of security to prevent anti-IPL activists from spoiling the show. Groups of protesters kept surging towards the stadium shouting slogans. A helicopter circled the sky over the Chepauk.
The teams had to enter the MA Chidambaram stadium through the back gate as the complex turned into a fortress with the deployment of hundreds of police personnel, many in riot gear.
Police chased away agitators in some places while one incident of protestors burning the CSK’s yellow jerseys was also reported.
“EPS and his government are nothing but criminals, and we will not vote for them again,” said farmers’ leader PR Pandian.
Hundreds of activists of pro-Tamil outfits like Tamilzhar Vazhvu Urmayi Katchi (TVK), Naam Tamizhar, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and some Muslim groups blocked roads at the arterial Anna Salai and TTK Salai, affecting traffic movement, police said.
Tamil film celebrities, director Bharathirajaa and national award-winning lyricist Vairamuthu among others, also joined the agitation. They were detained in the evening.
Earlier in the day, several members of the TVK, who tried to stage a protest over the Cauvery water-sharing issue outside the MA Chidambaram stadium, were arrested.
Several political parties and fringe groups in Tamil Nadu have been demanding the cancellation or postponement of the seven IPL matches in Chennai till the Centre constitutes a board to share the waters of the Cauvery between the state and Karnataka in keeping with a February order of the Supreme Court.
The Chennai Police have a thrown a four-tier security cordon around the stadium at Chepauk to prevent any fringe group from carrying out their threat to disrupt the match. Some 4,000 policemen are on security duty in and around the stadium and roads leading up to it.
“We will ensure it goes on peacefully,” said Chennai Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan.
The police have also issued a long list of restrictions for spectators, who will only be allowed to take their mobile phones inside the stadium. Spectators wearing a black shirt or tunic will not be allowed inside, said a police officer.
The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), which is organising the IPL matches, has asked spectators not to bring posters, remote control car-key or any electronic devices, bags, briefcases, pagers, radios, digital diaries, laptops, computers, tape-recorders and even binoculars into the stadium.
The list also includes musical instrument, video cameras, digital cameras, crackers, inflammable materials, firearms and ammunition, edibles, thermos flasks, water jugs, bottles, cigarettes, beedis, matchboxes, lighters, razors, scissors, mirrors and glass, knives and batteries.
Chennai is hosting IPL matches after two years as the home team was suspended over a spot-fixing controversy.
AIADMK leader and state fisheries minister D Jayakumar said the government was duty bound to provide security and has taken all steps to maintain peace and calm.
“My personal view is that when the state is boiling with Cauvery issue, this is not the right time to conduct the game. I told the organisers (of IPL) the same thing, but if they want to continue and go ahead it is up to them,” Jayakumar said.
Among those opposing the IPL matches are film stars and directors who came together to form a body called Tamil Panpaattu Peravai, which urged the players to boycott the match in sympathy with the suffering farmers of the state.
Noted film director Bharathirajaa, a key member of the new association, said they will protest against the match as well.
Opposition political parties had urged IPL authorities to shift the matches out of Chennai in deference with the sentiments of the people of the state, who are suffering due to the severe shortage of water in the Cauvery basin.
MK Stalin, working president of the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), asked IPL organisers to take an “appropriate decision” after considering the plight of Tamil Nadu’s farmers and how the Union government “was playing politics over Cauvery”.
Stalin added that his party was not against IPL matches, but the organisers should understand the problems of the people and act accordingly.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) chief Thol Thirumavalavan has sought a ban on IPL matches in the state as did other leaders like Pattali Makkal Katchi chief S Ramadoss.
The sharing of the Cauvery water is a sensitive political issue in both states, and Karnataka, which saw one of its worst droughts in 2017, goes to polls in May.
(With agency inputs)