AFTER a 26-year-old youth walked past the security cordon inside Gahunje stadium and ran straight up to the players during the IPL match between Mumbai Indian and Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday evening, the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) has flagged security concerns with the Pimpri-Chinchwad police which has decided to spruce up the entire security arrangements inside the stadium.
The incident has also led to verbal duel between the MCA officials and the Pimpri-Chinchwad police. While the MCA says Saturday’s incident was a “security lapse,” the police deny any lapse on their part. “It was certainly a security lapse. The police should not have allowed the man to run up to the players. They should have stopped him before he jumped the fence. In such cases, anything can happen…,” MCA president Vikas Kakatkar told this paper on Sunday.
Stopping short of calling it a “major security lapse,” like former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar termed it, Kakatkar said,”Even a small incident vis-a-vis players’ security should not be allowed to happen. It was a security lapse and we have taken up the issue with the police. We have asked them to take all necessary steps to ensure that such incidents are not repeated at the stadium.”
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When asked about MCA’s charge, Pimpri-Chinchwad Police Commissioner Krishna Prakash said,”It was not a security lapse. It was ‘excessive enthusiasm’ from the cricket fan. How can it be a security lapse when we have deployed 600 police personnel to guard the stadium and the players ? We have put in tight security measures at the stadium.”
Kakatkar said that the incident happened even when the Police Commissioner himself was present and monitoring the security arrangements. “It is said that the incident happened when the police commissioner himself was present inside the stadium…It should not have happened in front of him …,” he said.
The police chief, however, said he was not present at the stadium when the incident happened. “I left the stadium much before the incident happened…I was on duty but had come to take the rounds. I was there for 45 minutes,” he said.
The Pimpri-Chinchwad police will take a re-look at the security inside the stadium. “We don’t need to review the security inside the stadium as we have put in stringent security measures. But, yes, we will have a re-look at the system in place so as to prevent such fencing jumping incidents in future. After the incident at the stadium, we will have to redeploy the police personnel at different points inside the stadium. We will ensure more effective coordination with stadium guards appointed by the MCA. Also, we will rope in CCTV cameras at certain sensitive points or wherever they have not been placed,” the police chief said.
Krishna said outside the stadium, they have armed guards in uniform and tighter security arrangement. “Inside except at key spots, we do not place armed cops. We have plainclothes police personnel inside the stadium. We also cannot ask MCA to increase the fence height as it will otherwise block the view of spectators sitting in the vicinity,” he said.
Krishna said the gate between the fence and seating arrangements is kept open or is loosely fastened. “This is because in case there is some natural calamity like an earthquake, we have to ask the crowd to come on to the ground…Now, we will have to think of tightly locking up the gate,” he said.
Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar called it a major lapse in security. “Of late, I have not heard of such an incident…A spectator going right up to the players is indeed a matter of serious security concern. Such incidents should be avoided at any cost.”
Meanwhile, the Pimpri-Chinchwad police said 26-year-old youth who intruded on to the ground and was seen giving fist bump Virat Kohli and then approaching Rohit Sharma, was arrested on Sunday on charges of trespassing into the stadium and creating ruckus while he was being escorted out of the ground by police personnel.
Police said the incident took place between 10.30 and 10.45 pm during the match between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). RCB won by seven wickets.
At the time of the incident, Kohli was batting and was at the striker’s end while Sharma was in the field.
Talegaon Dabhade police station, which has jurisdiction over the stadium, arrested the man who has been identified as Dashrath Jadhav (26), a resident of Satara district.
Police constable Vinod Salve, who was one of the two police personnel who escorted the man out of the ground, said, “There was a group of people who had gathered near the fence that was taller than an average person. We repeatedly gave warnings to this man to not try to scale the fence. But at one moment he climbed up the fence from a platform and jumped on the ground.”
Police said that the man ran straight to Kohli who was at the striker’s end. As the man approached him, Kohli gave him a fist bump. The man then ran towards Rohit.
“When he was being escorted out of the ground he manhandled the policemen and created a ruckus,” said Assistant Inspector Durganath Sali who is probing the case. Sali said Jadhav works for a private company and hails from Kesurdi village of Khandala taluka of Satara district.
Ain the case was later registered against Jadhav under Indian Penal Code section 447 pertaining to criminal trespass and 353 pertaining to assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, said inspector Madhukar Sawant, in-charge of the Talegaon Dabhade police station. He was placed under arrest on Sunday morning, Sawant added.