The Chennai Police arrested dozens of protestors on Tuesday as they attempted to enter the MA Chidambaram Stadium where an Indian Premier League match was to be held, The Hindu reported. Various Tamil outfits are opposing the match in the backdrop of Tamil Nadu’s demand for the Cauvery Water Management Board to be set up soon.

Heavy police force was deployed ahead of the match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, scheduled to start at 8 pm. Over 350 people have been arrested and 4,000 police personnel are deployed, according to The Indian Express. Players of both teams could not reach the match venue on time because of the protests, which delayed the toss, reported ESPNCricinfo.

Heavy police deployment outside the stadium (Vinita Govindarajan/Scroll.in)
Heavy police deployment outside the stadium (Vinita Govindarajan/Scroll.in)

Film directors Bharathiraja and Seeman among others were detained. Police also baton-charged several protestors. Ten activists, identified as members of political party Tamizhaga Vaazhvurimai Katchi, were arrested as they staged a protest outside the stadium. They also arrested nearly 150 members of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi near Triplicane where they were protesting on Tuesday afternoon, The Hindu reported.

The police resorted to baton-charge after hundreds of protestors marched from Anna Salai locality of Chennai to the stadium, The Indian Express reported.

Scenes outside the stadium before the match (Vinita Govindarajan/Scroll.in)
Scenes outside the stadium before the match (Vinita Govindarajan/Scroll.in)

Demonstrators blocked traffic in the locality near the stadium. They shouted slogans against the Tamil Nadu government and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre. Members of the Tamilar Ezhachi Iyakkam staged demonstration in TTK Road and the RK Salai that the cricketers were supposed to take to head to the stadium, The Hindu reported.

Earlier in the day, Indian Premier League Chairperson Rajeev Shukla met Union Home Secretary Rajeev Gauba to discuss security measures in the city, ANI reported. Gauba had assured the official of adequate security provisions.

Events so far

On Monday, Tamizhaga Vazhvumurai Katchi leader T Velmurugan had threatened to disrupt the cricket match and “capture” the players. On Tuesday, they protested outside the cricket stadium and were taken into custody when they tried to enter it.

Protests have erupted across the state in the last few weeks, after the central government ignored a Supreme Court order directing it to constitute the Cauvery board. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader MK Stalin is currently on a tour through the Cauvery delta, trying to mobilise public support.

Over the last few days, there has been a social media campaign asking people to register their protest at IPL cricket matches to be held in Chennai. Political parties initially demanded that the matches be shifted out of Chennai, respecting the sentiments of people whose livelihoods are at stake.

The IPL management however, turned down this demand. Subsequently, parties have asked people to attend matches at the Chepauk stadium wearing either black clothes or black badges as a show of protest. Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Sunday urged fans and cricketers of Chennai’s Indian Premier League team, the Chennai Super Kings, to wear black arm bands during the match.

On February 16, the Supreme Court had ordered the government to set up a Cauvery Water Management Board within six weeks. The board will determine the allocation of Cauvery river water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The deadline to set up the board ended on March 29, after which the Centre asked the Supreme Court for six more weeks to set it up, saying the Karnataka elections will be held in May. The Supreme Court’s order has led to unrest in both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The court on Monday asked the Centre to file its draft scheme on the implementation of its February 16 order by May 3.