Secunderabad Gymkhana stampede: Telangana sports minister, HCA square off ahead of India vs Australia

Minister V Srinivas Goud, who initially accused the cricket association of mismanagement, changed his stance after meeting HCA officials.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Sep 22, 2022 | 11:04 PMUpdatedSep 23, 2022 | 6:15 PM

Injured at stampede

As the nightmarish Secunderabad stampede rocked the cricket community, Telangana Sports and Excise Minister V Srinivas Goud on Thursday, 22 September, blamed it on the mismanagement of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), running under the leadership of the former Indian men’s cricket team captain Mohammed Azharuddin.

“A committee will be formed to inquire about today’s incident and action will be taken after the report is received. If irregularities are found on the part of HCA during the sale of tickets, action will be taken against those responsible,” Goud told reporters as he summoned Azharuddin and HCA officials to his chamber seeking an explanation about the incident.

The slew of criticisms comes after at least 20 people were reportedly injured earlier in the day as the Hyderabad City Police resorted to lathi charge after a large crowd rushed into the gymkhana grounds in Secunderabad.

Meanwhile, Azharuddin denied the charges of mismanagement and black-marketing of tickets.

The police eventually took legal action.

“The Begumpet police registered a case against the Hyderabad Cricket Association led by Mohammad Azharuddin under the IPC Sections 420 (cheating) and 337 (negligent act endangering the safety of others), and the City Police Act,” Additional DCP G Venkateshwarlu told South First.

The case was registered following complaints by Begumpet Sub Inspector Pramod Reddy and two victims: Aditi and Aaliya.

The victims alleged that the HCA cheated fans by not announcing the number of tickets up for sale, and that it was involved in black-marketing of tickets, while the SI said that many people were injured in the stampede

‘Curb black-marketing

Reacting to the complaints of irregularities in the sale of tickets, Goud warned of severe action against those involved in the black-marketing of tickets, including HCA officials, ahead of the third T20 match between India and Australia on 25 September at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Uppal.

Saying he would be visiting the stadium, Goud told reporters that the government would examine the number of tickets sold against the stadium’s seating capacity.

As per local reports, the stadium has a capacity of 34,000, out of which 29,400 tickets were to be sold to the public, while around 4,600 tickets would go to HCA.

Goud reminded the HCA officials that the Uppal stadium was built on 23 acres allotted by the state government, which has a responsibility to ensure transparency in the sale of tickets.

He said that the problem arose as the HCA switched to offline mode in a hurry.

Meanwhile, the Hyderabad police are planning to initiate an action against the HCA for inadequate arrangements.

The police said only four counters were prepared for around 15,000-20,000 people, and that there was no separate queue for women.

Azharuddin says, ‘We have done nothing wrong’

While terming the incident “very unfortunate” at a press conference also attended by Goud, HCA president Mohammad Azharuddin said, “It is not as easy to conduct a match as sitting in this room and discussing.”

He added that the HCA stood with the injured fans, and would take care of them completely.

Denying the allegations of black-marketing of tickets, he said, “We will give a complete report on the sale of tickets, availability, and other details to the minister at the media briefing on Friday, and he will tell you what is correct and what is wrong. We have nothing to hide, but at the same time we have to ensure that the match goes forward.”

The former Indian cricketer pointed out that not everyone in the public could see a match even if it was happening after a gap of three years.

In response to another query on the role of the four-member supervisory committee formed by the Supreme Court for the HCA last month, Azharuddin said the apex court had not given any orders restraining his powers.

Minister’s tone changes after meeting

Goud, who sounded aggressive and stern towards the HCA before the meeting, sounded different at the press conference.

While admitting to the government’s lack of coordination with the HCA, he assured us that such incidents would not be repeated.

“We took a decision to sell tickets offline late on Wedenesday, and because of that there was a huge turnout, which led to the stampede at the gymkhana grounds,” the minister said, adding that top police officials would conduct an inquiry into what caused it.

Goud also reportedly assured the HCA of complete support from the state government in conducting the match, and called it “a matter of great pride for the government to host an international cricket match, especially after the pandemic.”

South First tried to reach Goud, Azharuddin, and HCA secretary R Vijayanand for their responses, but they did not respond.