A cricket match is never just a game, but this time there is indeed much more at stake. As India prepares to clash with South Africa in Rajkot’s Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Sunday, the state administration has pitched its best efforts to guard the match from Hardik Patel’s protests.
Rajkot city, and the entire cricket stadium, will be covered by police personnel with and without uniform. With an expected crowd turnout of 29,000, the stadium and its surroundings will have around 5,000 cops for security.
In a desperate attempt to draw attention to their issue, Patidar Anamat Aandolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Patel has threatened to disrupt the match with slogans of ‘Jai Sardar’ during the match. When the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) held back tickets for the match, Patel threatened that his group would prevent the cricket teams from reaching the stadium.
“We had booked 12,400 tickets online but were allotted only 1,840,” Patel said. “Even taking into account the window tickets, we could manage a total of about 2,200 tickets. But our agitation will continue. We attempt to reach as close to the stadium as possible without breaking the law,” he added.
After PAAS’s grand rally in Ahmedabad in August, which led to violence across the state, the Gujarat government is under tremendous pressure to ensure that the ODI match passes without any major hiccup. Even the SCA is in a spot of bother, as any kind of crowd trouble will have the BCCI asking them for an explanation. This series has already been marred by crowd trouble with the bottle-throwing incident in the second T20I in Cuttack, and another untoward incident will only add to the shame.
Chirag Patel, a core committee member of PAAS who will be inside the stadium with Patel, told dna, “We are not going inside the stadium for any agitation. We just want to showcase our organisational strength and demands to the international audience.”
Meanwhile, internet will remain suspended from 10 pm on Saturday to 6 am on Monday in Rajkot, according to the collector’s notification.
1 cop for 6 spectators
The capacity of Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot is 29,000 people. A total of about 5,000 police personnel will be deployed – from the hotel where teams are staying, to the route to the stadium as well as in and around the stadium. The multi-layered security includes 3,500 police personnel, 400 State Reserve Police Force jawans, 200 from Rapid Action Force and 600 personnel from private security agencies. As an additional precaution, any type of agitation within 1 km radius of the stadium has also been prohibited.