Fearing Cauvery protests, authorities deploy 4000-strong force at Chennai's Chepauk stadium ahead of CSK-KKR match. Image: @SahayaNovinston/ TwitterChennai: Amid intensified opposition to the IPL matches to be held in Chennai with outfits agitating over the Cauvery issue threatening to hold protests outside the venue, the Chidambaram stadium has turned into a virtual fortress with 4,000 policemen including commandos and members of the Rapid Action Force deployed for security ahead of Tuesday's IPL match involving Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Being held in Chennai after a gap of almost three years, tickets have been sold out for the match. Seven Indian Premier League matches are scheduled to be held in Chennai between 10 April and 20 May. Flags and banners have been banned, with commandos and Rapid Action Force personnel forming part of the security for the tie. Spectators would not be allowed to carry firecrackers, inflammable materials and firearms, besides bags, mobile phones, brief-cases, pagers, radios, digital diaries, laptops, computers, tape-recorders, binoculars, remote control devices, remote control car-keys or any other electronic devices, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association said in a release. The Tamil Nadu government, on its part, put the onus on the IPL governing body for conducting the matches. The cricket board has been apprised of "our sentiments," Fisheries minister D Jayakumar said.
He said "it would be good" if the BCCI respected the sentiments and not conduct the match here but government would provide all support, including security, as per laid down guidelines. Political parties and outfits have been demanding that IPL matches not be held at this time, saying the state is witnessing widespread agitations on the vexed issue. Indian Premier League chairman Rajeev Shukla also sought intervention of the Centre for smooth conduct of Chennai Super Kings matches amidst demands that the the Twenty20 League be suspended in city till Cauvery water dispute is sorted. Shukla met Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, requesting him to ensure security arrangements for uninterrupted hosting of the matches. Opposition DMK Working President MK Stalin had said the organisers of IPL matches should realise the issues faced by the people and act accordingly. "We are not saying that it (matches) should not be held. The organisers should realise the problems of people and act accordingly," he had said last week. Tamil film star Rajinikanth had suggested that CSK team players play with black bands as a mark of expressing the anguish of people who have been staging protests demanding setting up of Cauvery Management Board. He had said the Centre might face the wrath of entire Tamil Nadu if CMB was not set up immediately. Pro-Tamil outfit Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK) on Monday warned of picketing the stadium tomorrow if the IPL stuck to its Chennai calendar. TVK chief Velmurugan told reporters that if the match was held despite its plea, they would coordinate with all democratic forces to stop it by organising a massive picketing protest. Later, Velmurugan said that his party or outfits that have joined hands with it were not against the players. Police said that as part of the stringent security measures, a 2,000 strong police posse, comprising one team of commandos and four teams of personnel of the Rapid Action Force, besides a number of senior officials, would be part of the security detail inside and outside the MA Chidambaram stadium, where the match will be held. The fans will be allowed entry only after a thorough check, the release said, adding proper traffic arrangements would also be put in place. Meanwhile a group of prominent film actors and directors launched a forum to back Tamils' cause in the state and called for "postponement'" of IPL fixtures in the state,saying it was "boiling" over the Cauvery issue. Veteran film director Bharathiraja, part of the forum, told reporters IPL would "divert" the prevailing "awakening" among the youth in Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery issue. "Tamil Nadu is boiling...we are not saying there is no need for IPL.. Please postpone (the matches). IPL will divert the awakening among the youth over Cauvery issue," he said. However, CSK CEO KS Viswanathan said the team's home matches would go on as scheduled and that city police, which has been informed of the schedule, would handle the situation accordingly. The state has witnessed widespread protests for the past one week, with political parties, farmers outfits and others, including the Tamil cinema industry, urging the Centre to establish the Cauvery Management Board to implement the 16 February verdict of the apex court. On 16 February, the Supreme Court raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu's share while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin. The court had granted six weeks time to the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its 465-page judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute, which modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award of 2007. The court had also made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground. The six-week period ended on 29 March.