Thursday, February 24, 2011

Police give crowd a damn good thrashing

In the past week of my World Cup journey we've had congestion, a car crash, pollution and now police brutality. Really, India isn't so different to back home.

The M Chinnaswamy Stadium, where England will play India on Sunday, was the venue today for a remake of the Gourmet Night episode of Fawlty Towers, with the Bangalore police playing the role of Basil and the thousands of spectators who had been unable to get tickets receiving "a damn good thrashing".

Their crime was to be miffed that the 7,000 tickets that went on public sale at 8.30am this morning had all gone within two and a half hours. Believing that more would soon be released, they loitered by the ticket windows, at which point in came the boys in beige wielding their lathi bamboo truncheons and spanked them until they moved on.

"It's not fair," one devastated Indian told me, possibly. "I was really looking forward to seeing Mike Yardy bowl his little darts." Another said that he had queued through the night in the hope of getting a ticket to watch Jonathan Trott scratch around for an ugly fifty.

A third person, this one from Ashford in Kent, was protesting about the British Government increasing tuition fees. With the last three thousand pounds of his trust fund, he had taken a gap year and made his way to southern India to make his point. "I didn't expect to get beaten up here as well," he sniffed.

The British police would do well to watch a video of their Indian counterparts in action and learn how to really bludgeon a protestor. None of your straight back and forwards approach here, it is all wristy dabs and swishes, finding the gaps between shirt tails and trouser waistband.

"We train really hard for days like this," a policeman told me while administering six of the best to the neck of a tobacconist. "You don't just rock up to the ground and expect to find your form. Some of us have been beating up taxi drivers in our spare time just to keep our eye in."

Another copper said with pride that he was planning to be in Mumbai for the final on April 2 and would be available for a bit of freelance violence if the local police needed him. "I don't mind whacking some new faces," he said. "It's good to have a change of scenery."

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