The Telegraph
Sunday , November 11 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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No firearms as it’s not a shooting range...

- Warning of a very different kind in Ranchi
The warning at the VIP gate says it all. Picture by Santosh Ghosh

Ranchi: One is accustomed to warnings such as “No Alcohol Allowed Inside” at cricket grounds across the world, but there’s a first of sorts at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA)’s showpiece stadium here.

“No Firearms Permitted Inside” greets you at the VIP gate, the entrance to the club house in the North Pavilion.

But why?

“Because some people have the habit of flaunting armed bodyguards, who insist on accompanying them everywhere... Also, there are people who’re in the habit of moving around with firearms... Just for the heck of it...

“The JSCA International Stadium is a cricket ground, not a shooting range... So, except for security personnel on duty and those guarding the dignitaries, nobody will be allowed in with firearms,” explained Amitabh Choudhary, the JSCA president, in a chat with The Telegraph.

He and his colleagues face their first test on January 19, when Jharkhand’s capital hosts its maiden international match, the ODI between India and England.

That such a warning is actually necessary itself says quite a bit.

Choudhary knows a thing or two about firearms and the risk of carrying them randomly (perhaps, even recklessly) at a public place. He is, after all, an additional director general of police and Jharkhand’s special secretary, home.

Ranchi was once notorious as undivided Bihar’s “crime capital” and most wouldn’t dare step out after 6.00 pm. The no-nonsense Choudhary changed that during his innings as the senior superintendent of police between 1997-2000.

Locals here haven’t forgotten Choudhary’s confidence-building measures, largely by taking on the mafia, and a special mention was made of his role during his felicitation by the Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce & Industry the other evening.

According to Choudhary, even those turning up with a licensed firearm won’t be allowed to bring in the weapon on January 19.

With good reasons, the JSCA believes that if somebody feels so insecure, then that person should stay at home and not sit among 40,000 spectators at the stadium.

Choudhary, meanwhile, is set to request the Board for a review of the 2.30 pm start on January 19.

That’s because dew is already significant in Ranchi and the toss may end up having the biggest influence.

No host association can control the elements, but why risk negative publicity on debut?

One fails to understand why the Board, which has enough men in senior positions, hasn’t taken the dew factor into account.

When the itinerary was announced, all five matches were to start at 2.30 pm. Now, the ODI in Mohali will begin at noon, while the one in Dharamsala (another new venue) has been made a day match.

All because of the possibility of dew causing havoc.

Dew isn’t, however, expected to have a major bearing on the outcome in Rajkot and Kochi.