Chepauk turns a fortress following protests over Cauvery (Third Lead)

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Chennai, April 10 (IANS) Life in several parts of Chennai was derailed on Tuesday as several Tamil outfits staged protests against the holding of the hugely-popular IPL cricket matches in Chepauk stadium to demand a Cauvery Management Board from the Centre.

Police had a tough time checking the protesters belonging to motley groups, including some from the film fraternity coming under the banner of the Federation for Tamil Art, Literature, Culture as the players of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) reached the stadium for the night match under heavy security.

A convoy of police vehicles escorted the two team buses from their hotels. A multi-tiered security was provided inside and outside the stadium where fans were prevented from carrying any articles with them. Mobile phones were, however, allowed. Movement of vehicles was restricted in the areas around the stadium.

Noted film director Bharathiraja and directors Gautaman, Ameer and Thangar Bachaan were arrested as the protests intensified. As he was taken into the police vehicle, Gautaman said they would show black flags against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. MLAs allied to AIADMK Karunas and Tamim un Ansari and Naam Thamizhar chief Seeman were also arrested.

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The stadium and the areas around it that give access to it like the arterial Anna Salai, Triplicane, Walajah Road and Bells Road resembled a battle zone as a few thousand protesters shouted slogans against the Central and the AIADMK governments for failing to implement the Supreme Court order on setting up the Board to ensure the legitimate share of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu.

Police lathicharged the protesters who refused to disperse after the leaders were arrested.

Addressing the protesters, Bharatiraja said Tamils had a legitimate right over Cauvery water and at a time when the state was on boil, holding the game would only be adding fuel to fire.

Poet and film lyricist Vairamuthu said the protests were not against cricket but for Cauvery waters. The time limit given by the Supreme Court to the Centre was too long, he felt.

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Vairamuthu said the protests would continue till their demands were fulfilled. Referring to stone throwing by some protesters, both said a few people may have got emotional.

Earlier in the evening, police took into custody protesting members of various organisations.

Members of the SDPI held protests on Anna Salai, throwing traffic out of gear.

Meanwhile, spectators also trickled into the stadium after heavy frisking by police which had imposed a lot of restrictions. The number of cricket fans coming in went up after 7 pm.

Some protesters flew black balloons against the match. Police also took into custody some protesters who tried to lay siege to the cricket stadium.

On Monday, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association banned spectators from bringing mobile phones, remote control car-key or any electronic devices, bags, briefcases, pagers, radios, digital diaries, laptops, computers, tape-recorders and even binoculars.

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The banned list also includes musical instrument, video cameras, digital cameras, crackers, inflammable materials, firearms and ammunition, edibles, thermos flasks, water jugs, bottles, cigarettes, beedis, match boxes, lighters, razors, scissors, mirrors and glass, knifes and batteries.

Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said it was for the organisers to decide whether to cancel the match or not and it was for the people to decide whether to boycott the match or not.

On Tuesday, however, the IPL organisers decided to allow spectators to carry mobile phones – when it became clear that a ban on mobiles would keep people away from the complex.

–IANS

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