IPL juggles dates, Kolkata waves 1st security red flag

While the Centre is convinced that the second season of the Indian Premier League Cricket tournament cannot be held as scheduled because it coincides almost completely with the general elections, it plans to ask state governments whether it’s possible to ensure “adequate security” for the matches given that law and order is a state subject.

This comes after IPL organizers informed the Home Ministry they had revised the schedule of the tournament and changed the dates of some matches to avoid a clash with polling dates in venue-cities and were approaching state governments for security cover.

The Centre’s opinion has been guided by advice from intelligence agencies which have recommended against the IPL to be held alongside elections. IPL is scheduled from April 10 to May 24 in nine states. The general elections are spread over a one-month period between April 16 and May 16.

The first note of caution was struck in Kolkata on Wednesday where Police Commissioner Gautam Chakraborty, after a meeting with Red Chillies Entertainment joint-owner Jay Mehta and officials of his team Kolkata Knight Riders at Writers’ Buildings, said: “I have requested the Knight Riders to postpone or change dates of matches to be held here at the Eden Gardens during the Lok Sabha polls. It won’t be possible for us to provide them adequate security at that time.”

The Lok Sabha poll dates for West Bengal are April 30, May 7 and May 13.

“The IPL matches here are starting from April 11. All political parties will be doing their poll campaigning during that time. Then the Knight Riders match on May 13 clashes with Kolkata polling day. Also, there are two matches in between April 30 and May 7. It doesn’t matter that polls on these days will be conducted outside Kolkata. City police personnel are also deployed in the districts during polls,” Chakraborty said. “Poll time is not ideal for IPL matches. So it is advisable that the three match dates be changed,” he added.

“After the Lahore incident, we cannot take any chances. There will be multi-layered security checks. We are also trying to convince the concerned authority to sell match tickets online to avoid scuffles outside the ticket counters,” Chakraborty said.

Said West Bengal Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen: “Hosting IPL matches on poll dates is out of question. As far as security arrangements for matches on other days, it would be up to the Police Commissioner to decide.”

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