The Sector 16 Stadium in Chandigarh which was the budding ground for cricketers like Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh who fine-tuned their skills to become successful international stars will be converted to a temporary jail on August 25.
It is expected to be used for the detention of Dera Sacha Sauda followers who might come in the city in support of preacher Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. On that particular day, the Panchkula CBI court will give the verdict in the rape case against the Dera chief.
It is learned that the Union Territory Administration on Tuesday made it very clear that all the Dera followers who are trying to enter or have already entered Chandigarh won’t be allowed to make their way into the city and will be detained and kept at the stadium whose area is about 15.31 acres. The stadium has a capacity to host more than 20,000 people and as per intelligence inputs, a total of around 10 lakh dera followers are expected to assemble in the Tricity on the day of the verdict.
“We are expecting thousands of followers to try to sneak into the city. We can’t keep such a large number of people in a lock-up and this is why we chose the stadium,” a senior police officer was quoted as saying by the Times of India. The followers will be kept in the stadium till the situation gets normal in the region. “We will bring the situation under control on the same day,” added the officer.
Following the emergence of Mohali in 1995, the prominence of the stadium was lost as Mohali was a much better ground and a stadium where international matches can be conducted on a regular basis. The Sector 16 Stadium hosted its first ever ODI in January 1958 and it’s only Test match in 1990. The last match played in the stadium was way back in 2007 when India locked horns with Australia. In all 5 ODI’s were played in the stadium between 1985 and 2007.
Police are planning to use schools and other government buildings to detain the followers. They have already imposed Section 144 of CrPC. Newly appointed Chandigarh SSP Nilamavri Vijay Jagdale on Tuesday stated that a much elaborate plan has been chalked out to handle the situation come August 25. As per reports, more than 3,500 cops will be placed all across the city and all the borders of the adjoining Punjab and Haryana are expected to be sealed. Barring this, additional companies of 7 paramilitary forces have also been requested from the center.