Revelry over India's win in T20 irks many in UK
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Revelry over India's win in T20 irks many in UK

Thousands of British Asians of Indian origin celebrated India's win in the Twenty20 WC final over Pak, but not everyone was happy with the way their joy was expressed on the streets of Britain.

world Updated: Sep 28, 2007 13:57 IST

Thousands of British Asians of Indian origin celebrated India's epic victory in the Twenty20 World Cup final over Pakistan, but not everyone was happy with the way their joy was expressed on the streets of Britain.

In places where many people of Indian origin reside, such as Southall, Wembley, Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester, there were spontaneous celebrations. People poured out on to the streets in large numbers, waving the Indian tricolour, while many expressed their delight during phone-ins on radio stations catering to the Asian community.

But as celebrations resembled those in India, several streets had to be closed to vehicles, causing considerable traffic congestion and inconvenience to others. Several British cricket followers hailed India's victory but did not approve of the wild ways in which it was celebrated.

For example, in Leicester - a town in the east Midlands with a large minority of Indian origin - a major road was closed following India's victory. Belgrave Road, the epicentre of Indian business and activity, saw hordes of cricket fans, waving flags, beating drums and cheering wildly during the evening rush hour.

Hundreds of motorists suffered long delays as the road (A603) was shut off completely by police because the volume of revellers raised safety worries. Since the Monday victory and the problems caused locally, several people criticised the local cricket fans and the police in comments to a local newspaper, the Leicester Mercury.

One motorist, Keith, from Leicester, said he was stuck for over an hour in traffic. He said: "I am a big cricket fan and fair play to India for their win. But to let their fans celebrate in Melton Road, at rush hour, which meant shutting one of the busiest routes in and out of the city centre, was madness. The police and the fans involved should hang their heads in shame."

Another correspondent, Bunmi, said: "I live in Leicester and work in Loughborough, so it takes me enough time to get home without being stuck in traffic for another hour because India won the cricket.

"A lot of countries win games. You don't see them piling up on the streets to cause havoc under the pretence of celebration. As for the police allowing them to do that, it is just unfair to commuters."

Harish Mistry, also from Leicester, said the celebration got out of hand. He said: "It appears that every time India win at cricket people feel the urge to congregate on the Golden Mile and disrupt traffic and have no regard for anyone else.

"This puts a black mark against the Indian community in Leicester and causes unnecessary friction with the other members of the community."

Amit, from Leicester, accused police of acting recklessly. He said: "I was stuck in traffic for two hours on a journey that takes 10 minutes. I could not believe the way the police acted. They should have moved the fans on."

A police spokeswoman said officers had worked to move the celebrations to local parks, but took the decision to close the roads to ensure safety.

She said: "The celebrations following the Twenty20 cricket final were not a pre-arranged event, but a spontaneous response to the victory by the India cricket team. Police were made aware of the celebrations shortly after 4.30 pm after receiving calls from members of the public.

"Officers were deployed to the scene and began diverting traffic along Doncaster Road and Portsmouth Road. Due to the time of the celebrations during rush hour, the roads became very congested, but diversions were necessary in the interests of safety.

"Police on the scene worked with community leaders in a bid to move the celebrations away from the streets and on to local parks. We have not had any incidents of intimidation or harassment reported to us, although we have had one report of damage to a motor vehicle."

Cricket and other events involving countries in south Asia are closely followed by Britain's Asian community on television. The sub-continental rivalry between India and Pakistan is often reflected in areas in Britain where Asians live.

First Published: Sep 28, 2007 12:50 IST