Protests, chaos precede CSK-KKR tie

Protests, chaos precede CSK-KKR tie

Cauvery protests waded its way into the Indian Premier League at the M A Chidambaram stadium on Tuesday with shoes flung towards the ground and spectators displaying their mobile phones with flashlights on during the game between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders.

Chaos also ruled the arterial Anna Salai here the whole of Tuesday evening with the anti-IPL brigade fighting with the police and trying to breach heavy barricades to picket the stadium against the conduct of the tournament in the midst of Cauvery row.

When the match was in full swing, a pair of shoes was hurled onto the field while a few others shouted slogans in favour of Cauvery and displayed flags of fringe group Naam Tamizhar. Nearly 20 people were removed from the gallery and taken into custody by the police. As the match progressed, thousands of spectators peacefully flashed their mobile phones apparently to draw the nation's attention to the Cauvery issue. At the end of the 18th over, a few spectators displayed black flags.

Battle of one-upmanship was writ large as fringe outfits, film personalities like ace director Bharathiraja, Vetrimaran and popular lyricist Vairamuthu converging at the Walajah Road leading to the historic playground in the heart of Chennai. Holding flags, placards against the Central Government for not constituting Cauvery Management Board and holding of the IPL matches at a time when "farmers are in deep distress", some protesters also beat up CSK fans who were proceeding to the stadium.

The chaos continued for several hours as traffic came to a standstill on Anna Salai, prompting the organisers to transport the players of both teams to the playground through backdoors of the respective hotels where they were staying. This led to a slight delay in CSK players reaching the stadium.

Police resorted to lathi-charged a couple of times to quell the protesters who went aggressive by throwing stones at those wearing the yellow jerseys of the CSK team. However, none of the protesters could reach anywhere near the stadium.

Police, though deployed in large numbers anticipating trouble by the fringe groups, had a tough time controlling the protesters as some of them began setting the IPL match tickets on fire in protest against the conduct of matches in Chennai. The groups demanded that IPL matches be shifted out of Chennai this year as they feel staging of the tournament here will take the sheen away from the Cauvery protests that have been rocking the state for the past ten days.

Normalcy returned on the roads only after nearly 800 people were taken into custody and police cleared the roads for traffic.

Chennai Police has made elaborate security arrangements by deploying more than 40 senior police officers in the rank of deputy commissioner and above to ensure no untoward incident takes place. The protests caused severe inconvenience to fans in reaching the stadium. The MAC stadium, which is usually crowded, wore a deserted look at 6 pm, hardly two hours before the match began, but the stands got filled with people gradually even as the match began a little late.

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