Massive protests broke out outside the MA Chidambaram Stadium, also known as Chepauk stadium, over protests against the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Tuesday. Hundreds of protesters belonging to various pro-Tamil outfits picketed outside the stadium and clashed with the police as authorities tried to remove them from the site.
Political parties and outfits in Tamil Nadu have been demanding that the IPL be shifted out of the state in solidarity with people over the Cauvery water dispute.
MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), captained by Dinesh Karthik, will lock horns in the first game in Chennai at 8 pm tonight.
As the protests outside the venue intensified, police detained Thamizhaga Valurimai Katchi (TVK) members who held demonstrations near the Anna statue. TVK chief T Velmurugan had on Monday threatened to organise protests outside Chepauk.
“If the match is held despite our plea, we will coordinate all democratic forces to stop it by organising a massive picketing protest. Many leaders, organisations will participate,” said Velmurugan.
“The cricketers who know Tamil, please understand our sentiments,” he had added.
Demonstrators reportedly released black balloons into the sky carrying anti-IPL messages as a sign of protest.
The protesters raised slogans against the Modi government for not constituting the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee (CWRC) as mandated by the Supreme Court.
Leading personalities from the Tamil film industry, too, have been demanding that the IPL matches are not held in the state.
Superstar Rajinikanth, who is making his foray into politics, said on Sunday that players from Chennai Super Kings (CSK) should at least wear black bands to show solidarity with those protesting over the Cauvery water issue.
Today, director Bharathirajaa hit the streets demanding justice for Tamil Nadu.
But IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said on Monday that the matches would be played as per schedule, adding that the event should “not be dragged into political controversies”.
CSK CEO KS Viswanathan, too, said that the team’s home matches will go on as per schedule. Security has been stepped up for the players and a heavy police contingent has been deployed outside the cricket stadium.
The ruling AIADMK government has said that the party was not against the IPL and did not support any form of violence.
Heavy security has been deployed inside and outside the stadium. At the time of writing, some ticket-holders were seen entering the stadium. The teams had made it inside the stadium through the back gate.
Concerns about the safety of the cricketers and the spectators have been expressed by many. The police are frisking every spectator thoroughly before letting them into the stadium.
On Tuesday, Shukla met with Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba in New Delhi seeking Centre’s intervention for providing security to avoid disruptions during matches in Chennai.
“I met the Home Secretary who spoke to the Police DGP (Director General of Police) giving him instructions that full security should be provided to the spectators and players, and no untoward incidents should happen,” Shukla said.
“Tamil Nadu government and Chennai police have also assured that security will be provided,” he added.
The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has banned mobile phones, remote control car-key or any electronic devices, bags, briefcases, pagers, radios, digital diaries, laptops, computers, tape-recorders, binoculars, musical instruments, video cameras, digital cameras, crackers, inflammable materials, firearms and ammunition, edibles, thermos flasks, water jugs, bottles, cigarettes, beedis, match boxes, lighters, razors, scissors, mirrors and glass, knifes and batteries.
CSK will be playing three other games at Chepauk before May 3.