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Police, crowd clash at stadium

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

Police, crowd clash at stadium

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MOHALI, India – Angry protesters hurled stones and clashed with police outside the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium yesterday in the run-up to tomorrow’s World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan.
Baton-wielding police and security forces on horseback tried to push back an estimated 1 000-strong crowd as a protest outside the stadium turned ugly.
A Reuters witness said seven people were arrested and taken away in a police van.
Injured men were lying on the grounds after they tried to escape the police action while women dressed in traditional salwar kameez suits were seen running for cover. Television reports suggested the protests related to government jobs in Punjab.
A heavy security presence has surrounded the 30 000-seat stadium ever since the two neighbouring countries set up the hotly anticipated showdown last week.
Local police told Reuters the protest was unconnected to the shortage of tickets that has angered fans in several Indian cities over the past five weeks.
Last month’s violence in Bangalore erupted after tens of thousands of fans who had camped overnight outside the 38 400-seat M Chinnaswamy Stadium were told all 7 000 tickets allocated for public sale for the February 27 India versus England game had been sold.
Police also used batons to control the angry fans on that occasion and similar scenes were witnessed in Nagpur on March 8 in the lead-up to India’s group match with South Africa.
Ticket sales for the February 19-April 2 tournament have proven to be a major headache for Indian organisers, who are unable to meet demand for the high-profile matches, especially those featuring the home team as well as the April 2 final in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
In an unrelated matter, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi accused the Indian media of conducting a negative campaign against his team before the semi-final.
“There is so much negativity in the Indian media. There is nothing positive to watch on the channels and we are just sticking together as a team and it is just the hotel and ground for us,”
Afridi told the Geo News channel.
“The only answer we can give is with our performance. We will try to give 110 per cent in this big match.
“Everyone knows how big a match this is and the pressures that come with it. But we will just do our best whatever the result. After the match we just want to be content in our hearts we gave our best,” Afridi said. (Reuters)