It was a scare that thankfully proved false. The Chinnaswamy Stadium was a scene of frantic security checks here on Saturday after the sensors at the venue hinted at traces of explosives on Friday night.
Subsequently the State police and the anti-terror outfit swung into action and at 9 am in the morning, zeroed in on Room No. 105 in the Karnataka State Cricket Association Club House premises and picked up Jammu and Kashmir cricketer Pervez Rasool for questioning as his bag allegedly had residual traces of explosives.
However the security personnel found no evidence and later released the player along with his team-mate and by then the entire stadium was thoroughly checked and certified fit to host the Champions League matches scheduled for Saturday evening and night.
The Bangalore Police Commissioner Shanker Bidari said: “When the police entered the room, the instruments pointed towards a bag but no explosives were found. Even then, as a measure of precaution, we took the person possessing the bag into custody and his antecedents were verified from the Jammu and Kashmir police.”
Meanwhile in a press release, M.R. Pujar, Additional Commissioner of Police, Bangalore City, said: “Following a regulation security sweep of M. Chinnaswamy Stadium this morning, police were called to investigate a suspicious bag. A young man was taken for questioning by police but he has subsequently been released without charge. Police and security experts have checked the stadium twice, as well as the suspicious bag, but nothing of concern has been found. As a result, the stadium has been given the all-clear for tonight’s matches to proceed.”
Mr. Rasool is part of the Jammu and Kashmir team that is scheduled to play against Karnataka in the C.K. Nayudu Trophy Under-22 tournament match commencing here on October 21. The J&K team management was upset with the manner in which an “innocent player” was picked up for questioning. The Karnataka State Cricket Association officials meanwhile reiterated that all security issues were addressed.
Eventually the day’s first match between Cape Cobras and Victoria Bushrangers started at 5.40 pm. The match was reduced to 17 overs per side. Later in the night, Royal Challengers Bangalore will take on Delhi Daredevils.
J&K cricket body demands apology from Karnataka police
While demanding an apology from the Karnataka police, the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) Saturday lodged a strong protest against the arrest of its two players in Bangalore where they had gone to participate in a national championship.
“Our boys were harassed and then released. The Bangalore police should apologise for the harassment of players. The JKCA will decide tomorrow (Sunday) whether or not the team should withdraw from the tournament,” general secretary of JKCA Saleem Khan told IANS here.
Describing the Saturday’s incident as ‘most unfortunate and shocking’ Khan said, “We are in touch with our president and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah to decide the future course of action.”
He said the team had been accommodated inside a hostel in the stadium complex by the hosts and their baggage had been checked during check-in Friday.
The arrest of the two players has shocked the cricket lovers here who say the players were harassed as they belonged to the valley.
Senior state government officials were on toes as the news of the arrest of Parvez Rasool and Mehraj-ud-Din who were picked up by the Bangalore police on the suspicion of carrying explosive reached them this afternoon.
Sources said top police officers contacted their counterparts in Bangalore immediately to ensure the players were released without any delay.
“Such incidents are unfortunate and only add to the alienation. The development should have been handled carefully without the media hype,” said a former cricketer.
A senior JKCA member said the bags had been given to the players by the association before their departure and had been purchased in New Delhi recently.