BANGALORE (Reuters) - Bangalore’s police commissioner on Friday defended the baton attacks on cricket fans angry that they could not buy World Cup tickets, explaining his action was part of life in India.
Several fans seeking tickets for co-hosts India’s Group B match with England here on Sunday were hurt after they were forced back near Bangalore’s M. Chinnaswamy stadium by police wielding bamboo batons.
“(The police action was) to prevent greater injury, not to cause a small injury. People were falling over each other and there was a likelihood of stampede, therefore our people intervened. There is nothing serious,” Shankar Bidari, commissioner of police, said at the stadium.
“It is not a new thing.”
The fans had understood that 7000 tickets would be available for the India-England game and grew angry when told all were sold out.
Bidari said a robust police action in such situations was normal in his country.
“The Indian situations and the Indian dimensions are very different. It’s difficult for the people who have lived in Europe and in America to understand,” Bidari said to open sniggers from the gathered media.
Security has been a major concern for the tournament which is being jointly staged by India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The often volatile region was rocked in 2009 when gunmen in Lahore attacked a Sri Lanka cricket team bus, killing eight people. Several players were also injured.
Since then Pakistan, who were to have been joint hosts of this World Cup, have not staged an international match.
Bidari said that there was no specific threat for the match on Sunday and that his force was in touch with the British High Commission on a regular basis regarding safety.
India was a colony of the British empire until 1947.
“We don’t want to leave anything to chance and we want to take all possible precautions in view of the situation prevailing in the world today,” he said.
Bidari said that about 3000 policemen were deployed for round-the-clock duty. While the security force enlisted 2000 policemen, 700 were assigned for traffic control around the stadium and the rest were for players’ security.
Bidari added that his force had swung into action to collect information on black marketing of tickets and the sale of fake tickets, saying that anyone guilty would “face the music”.
Two officials who were caught with a load of tickets on Thursday had been remanded in custody, he added.
Editing by Jon Bramley; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org