‘Tight security’ by City Police draws mixed reactions
The city is about to host two international events – nine matches of FIFA U-17 World Cup from October 8 to October 25 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium (Sarusajai stadium) and India-Australia T20 cricket match on October 10 at Barsapara Stadium, and Guwahati police is leaving no stones unturned in ensuring security at both the venues.
The teams of the first two matches – New Caledonia, who will lock horns with France and Honduras who will clash with Japan, have already arrived and the Guwahati police has already ensured security for the teams. The city is already staring at a jam packed stadium with football fans from Assam, other north-eastern states and even from Bengal on October 8, ready to crowd it out.
Two days later is the international T20 match, the first ever to be held in Northeast and that too between India and the heavyweight Australia. The online ticketing for the match on BookMyShow has already been sold out and another full packed stadium from different parts of the country is expected on the same day.
Guwahati Commissioner of Police (CP) Hiren Chandra Nath said, “For both the T20 and FIFA matches, we have chalked out separate plans according to the behaviour of the crowd and the venue. Mock drills for both the security arrangements have started.
Layered security to be in place: CP
Guwahati Police Commissioner, Hiren Chandra Nath said that the City Police have chalked out layered security system for the matches.
“Diversions for traffic movement and designated parking areas have been identified. The venue will be manned by security personnel of Assam Police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). Assam Police Commandos and police officials in plain clothes will be manning the venue. Besides, there will also be at least hundred highly trained stewards at the venues who will look after crowd management,” Nath said.
“We will also use a drone to keep a better watch of the crowd. The drone, that is capable of recording, will be used mostly to look at the crowd pattern,” Nath added.
Too much security to cause discomfort to the viewers
The FIFA organisers have laid out a list of all the things that can be taken inside the venue and that include only mobile phone and a small bag or wallet. “There are arrangements for refreshments and water inside the FIFA venue. People will have to go through two stages of checking by police and one stage of checking by the organisers. In all the two stages, their pockets and belongings will be checked, both manually and with metal detectors. For women, there will be enclosed areas for their checking,” Nath said.
He said that the security arrangements for the cricket match will be almost similar. Also, car parking areas for the audience has been designated about 1-2 kilometres from the venue, which means that the audience might have to walk a little.
People however, did not seem that happy with security arrangements, especially with the various restrictions.
“I can understand the ban on other products such as cigarettes, guthkha, metals etc, but why even water? It is an essential and often, the venue vendors either sell those at inflated rates or due to overcrowding, are hard to reach to. At least water should have been allowed,” said Nituparna Kataki, a housewife who purchased tickets for the October 11 France vs Japan match.
Temporary facelift ahead of international events
A few concerned citizens of the city pointed out that because of the two sporting events; the city is at least getting a much needed facelift. It has been a trend in Guwahati for quite some time now that major facelifts only happen when some international or national sporting events are organised here, the residents said.
“The last major construction work was done during the South Asian Games which were organised in 2015 at Sarusajai Stadium. In the meantime, minor work was done during Narendra Modi’s visit earlier this year. And now prior to the international sporting event, minor road repair and beautification work is being done across the city,” Kailash Sarma, General Secretary of Save Guwahati, Build Guwahati said.
“We welcome the sporting events and we too want our city to look good when people and players from other parts of world come here, but we want such work to be a continuous process and not just a cover up,” Sarma added.
The Battalion Gate road that leads to venue of Barsapara Stadium, runs from Kalapahar Road to Itabhata and had been in shambles for the last decade, the locals recall.
“It took an international match for this stretch to get attention. The road leads to a school and a medical institute besides being a major artery for the residents that connects with the rest of the city; but that never prompted them to pitch the road. And now, within weeks, the entire stretch is almost complete,” Kulajit Dhar, a shop owner opposite the South Point School in Battalion Gate said.