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Running wild in Patna

At least 24 people were injured as the police used force to disperse crowds of fans rushing to the ground for a closer look of their cricket idols after a friendly Twenty20 match, reports Arun Kumar.

patna Updated: Jan 20, 2009 13:20 IST
Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar
Hindustan Times

It’s not often that India’s top cricketers are sent scurrying for cover. But that was just the case at the Moin-ul Haq Stadium on Monday. Trouble erupted during the prize distribution of a benefit match and it sent Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla among others scampering for cover. However, no one was injured.

Organised in aid of flood victims of the Kosi region, the organizers, Association of Bihar Cricket, barricaded a small enclosure during the prize distribution and this invited the spectators’ ire. Even as Sehwag and Gambhir and the other players waited for Governor R.L. Bhatia to give away the prizes, a section of the crowd started to pelt stones, irked by their view being blocked.

One of the stones fell close to the dais and it was enough to make the over-zealous security personnel swing into action. Even as they had to lathicharge to push the mob back, a security ring was thrown around the players.

Requesting the crowd to stay calm, ABC chairman, Kirti Azad, said, “It was incident-free for three days, what happened suddenly?”

Additional Director General (Headquarters), Neelmani, said the enclosure for the prize distribution obstructed the spectators’ view and this led to the storming.

After order was restored, a brief prize distribution was hurriedly organised indoors, causing embarrassment to the organizers, who till a few minutes back, were patting themselves for having brought so many stars to the cricket-starved city. Charity or not, India’s cricketers may not want to come to Patna again.

First Published: Jan 19, 2009 17:08 IST