Police apprehension cannot be reason to impose a ban, says court
: It may be the country’s most favourite sport, but the shocking fact is that the police in southern districts of Tamil Nadu perceive cricket to be a most dangerous game that leads to caste clashes, disturbance to law and order and violence among the youth.
The trend of police denying permission to local cricket clubs in villages and remote areas to conduct cricket tournaments has increased in the recent past. Consequently, the clubs have begun approaching the Madras High Court Bench here seeking permission to conduct the tournaments.
Allowing one such writ petition filed by K. Mayakannan of Muthuramalingam Thevar Cricket Club at Ilampuvanam in Ettayapuram Taluk of Tuticorin district on Wednesday, Justice K.K. Sasidharan directed the police to permit the tournament on February 23 and 24 by imposing reasonable conditions.
In his affidavit, the petitioner claimed to have been conducting the tournament peacefully for the last 12 years by inviting various other cricket clubs in the nearby villages. This year, about 40 teams had expressed their willingness to participate in the tournament scheduled between January 12 and 16.
However, the police interrupted on the third day of the tournament and ordered the organisers to abandon it, the petitioner alleged. He said that the failure to conduct it this year had hurt the feelings of the residents of the host village and put them to shame before others.
Denying the allegations through a counter affidavit, S. Sankar Dev, Inspector of Ettayapuram Police Station, said that Ilambuvanam was a “black spot village in the (police) station records.” Numerous cases had been booked with regard to disturbance of law and order in the village.
Further, “In Tuticorin district, so many communal (caste) clashes arose during cricket and Kabbadi matches… Recently at Kalugumalai village, a communal violence occurred during cricket matches between players belonging to two communities and a case was registered.
“So, the first respondent (Tuticorin Superintendent of Police), based on that unwarranted occurrence and in order to prevent such unwanted incidents, gave oral instructions to all police stations within the district to restrict the cricket matches,” the Inspector said.
After hearing both sides, the judge said that the apprehension of the police with regard to law and order disturbance could not be a reason for preventing youngsters from playing a game of cricket. He also said that no materials had been placed before him to prove that the village was prone to violence.
Nevertheless, as a word of caution, the judge said that the petitioner and his club should ensure that the tournament does not give rise to any law and order problem. He also hoped that the participants would cooperate with the police in conducting the tournaments peacefully in the years to come.
The High Court Bench had allowed a similar writ petition with regard to conduct of a cricket tournament at Perungudi near here in July last. In that case, the tournament was ordered to be conducted under the watchful eyes of the police with liberty to arrest the trouble mongers.
Recently, M. Prabhu (21), a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam functionary owning a fish stall at Koodal Nagar here, was stabbed to death at Puttuthoppu on February 4 and the police claimed it to be a result of a quarrel he had while playing cricket.