Around 8000 children watched almost on empty stomach at the first two days of the fourth and final test between India vs South Africa in Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. The contrast between Delhi government AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) and Delhi Police for this incident.
Children of EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) society and students from some local government schools were intercepted by Delhi police from taking meal boxes inside the stadium due to security reason. These meal boxes were provided by Delhi government.
Yet Central Delhi DCP Param Aditya denied that children were forced to go hungry. He said “Yes, we did not allow them to carry any food item inside the stadium because we follow certain security procedures, but we had kept the refreshment boxes at the corridor outside the seating area and informed the kids that they can come outside and eat in case they feel hungry”
Justice Mukul who is the overseer for the conduct of the Test match had filed a suit before the two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court that the EWS’s children and government school students with their teachers would be allowed to attend the Test on the court’s direction. DDCA (Delhi Districts and Cricket Association) allotted lower-level of the East stand for them, which has the seating capacity of about 8,225 seats. These seats are cost Rs.50/- per child in season tickets.
Justice Mudgal felt it would be better to allow school children to watch the match, after observing that most of pavilion stands remain empty during the Test matches.
The school children sat through the whole day (from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm) on an almost empty stomach. They only relied on a piece of sandwich and RO purified water which were provided by the DDCA free of cost.
Delhi government provided refreshment boxes to the each student which were Delhi Police did not allow it to be taken inside, as security staffs have orders to do that from the superiors.
Justice Mudgal said, “I know about it and this is very sad that school children are not getting the meal boxes. They do get sandwiches provided by the DDCA, but I don’t know how much that would help. We have ensured that they at least get RO purified water in disposable glasses regularly.”
He added, “I had requested the Delhi personnel about it, but they cited their own helplessness. DDCA also can’t do much about it. This has to be sorted out by the Delhi government and Delhi police. I feel bad for these school kids,”
A senior DDCA functionary said, “These kids get the meal boxes, given by the Delhi government, in the buses itself which ferry them to and fro from their respective schools.”
He also said, “Some school children get the boxes from Bal Bhawan area, where they board buses. When we reasoned it out with the police personnel, all our efforts went in vain as they stuck to their stand.”
One of the school children said that the police even not pay any kind of attention to their teachers’ requests.
Kamlesh, a student from the Government Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya said, “Sir, we have come here as we have never watched a live Test match. We are even willing to stay hungry for that. You don’t get to see Kohli, Dhawan or Rahane every day. But yes! We do feel hungry.”