Cops used excessive force: Hyderabad eyewitness recounts Gymkhana lathi charge

Hundreds of people landed up at the Gymkhana grounds hoping to buy tickets for the India vs Australia T20 international cricket match scheduled to be held in Hyderabad on September 25.
Police lathicharging the crowd at Gymkhana
Police lathicharging the crowd at Gymkhana
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Twenty-five-year-old Sai Kishore and his brothers were elated when they heard that tickets for the upcoming India-Australia T20 international cricket match in Hyderabad would be sold at the city’s Gymkhana grounds on Thursday, September 22. They reached the ground as early as 5:30 am only to find that there were hordes of other people already in a queue. As the hours passed, the crowd kept swelling and the line grew even longer. Finally, around 11 am, 20 people from the queue were allowed inside to get their tickets.

“For the first half-an-hour, things went smoothly. The main gate opened around 11.30 am and the crowd rushed inside all at once in a frenzy. Before we could realise what was happening, the police began lathi charging us. We weren’t able to understand why we were being beaten. Even those in the queue were beaten by the police and it turned into a stampede-like situation. While my brothers were beaten on their hands and legs, I was beaten on my head,” Sai Kishore recounted.

On Thursday, the Hyderabad Cricket Association began the offline sale of tickets at the Gymkhana cricket ground for the third India-Australia T20I match scheduled to be held at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Uppal on September 25. Although many people were injured in the police action, a total of eight people were taken to the nearest hospital after they suffered injuries or had fainted during the commotion. Minister Srinivas Goud has assured that an inquiry will be ordered into the incident as there are allegations that tickets were being sold in black leading to the crowd getting more agitated.

Kishore’s shirt was drenched in blood from his head injury. The police rushed him to Yashoda Hospital in Secunderabad.

Injury on Sai Kishore's head

Earlier in the day, speaking to TNM, North Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police Chandana Deepthi said, “There was a downpour and everyone ran into the compound all at once. The police had to do a lathi charge to manage the crowd.”

Kishore said that the police merely used the rain as an excuse. “There was no need for the police highhandedness. When they knew an international match was taking place in the city after nearly 2.5 years, why didn’t they make adequate arrangements like barricades to manage the crowd?” he asked. “There was hardly any rain, it was just drizzling… it was not even a reason for the chaos. The situation spiralled out of control when the police lathi charged.”

Speaking to TNM, Kishore’s mother S Latha, who works as a manager at a cooperative bank, said, “The youth were beaten badly. What was the need to use such excessive force on them? We weren’t even informed that my son was injured in the lathi charge.”

“By the time we got to know and we rushed to the hospital, the hospital had already collected Rs 1,500 from Kishore. Though Kishore was given a bill, they took the bill back, probably worried that it would turn against them. I had given my son that money for the tickets, instead he ended up spending it at the hospital,” added Latha.

Ironically, Minister Srinivas Goud while addressing the media said all expenses incurred towards treating the patients would be borne by the Hyderabad Cricket Association.

When Kishore, his brothers and their friends— altogether 9 of them, all cricket enthusiasts — stood in the queue eagerly on Thursday morning, they had only hoped to get their hands on the tickets for the match. However, they returned home beaten, bruised and disappointed. All this, despite getting so close to acquiring the tickets.

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