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Delay Lunch Day 1: Police brutality, press corps sitting on pitch

Submitted by rickeyre on April 18, 2006 - 2:34am

Dear readers, opening the newspaper you must have been first taken by surprise, then by anger. The second Test between Bangladesh and Australia has got underway in Chittagong on Sunday, but no coverage on that.

Dear readers, we beg your apology for this. In fact, we have been forced to deprive you. We too love cricket as much as you do. But to protest the medieval barbarism that police carried out on the journalists, we did not have any way out other than this.

It was not possible for us to file reports while fellow journalists languished in hospital, victims of brutal police assault. To protest this unjust police torture the journalists immediately held a meeting and decided to boycott the Bangladesh-Australia series until the incident was fairly investigated and the guilty police officials were punished. All the national newspapers of the country, local newspapers in Chittagong and all private television channels will carry only the scoreboard of the series. We sincerely feel sorry for the readers for this inconvenience. At the same time we hope that you will also stand by us in this protest by perceiving the whole situation from a pragmatic standpoint.

- from the sports section of the Daily Star, 17.4.06

Media sit-in at ChittagongOf all the reports I have seen over the years of crowd disturbances at sporting events, this has to be one of the most amazing, and I'm not talking just cricket.

It all started before the game when photographer Shamsul Haq Tanku was reportedly assaulted by police after his request to bring his auto-rickshaw onto the perimeter of the field was refused. The story continues as told by Nabila Ahmed of the Fairfax press and by the Daily Star's Chittagong correspondents.

The extraordinary media protest and police reaction have, so far at least, received little coverage in Australia, where there has been more interest in the fact that Australia dismissed Bangladesh cheaply. The headline on the AAP wire report as posted to News Limited's Fox Sports website, treats it all rather flippantly. If you read the report from Sportal on the Cricket Australia site, the only dramatic event all day was the controversy of Aftab Ahmed's dismissal.

And you really have to laugh at not just the selection but the layout of the ABC's picture gallery of Day One action.

I trust we'll hear a lot more about this disgraceful episode. Cricket grounds need to be a safe place not just for players and spectators, but for the workforce who make their living at the Test in varying capacities. That said, it's a kneejerk over-reaction to say at this stage that international cricket should be banished from Chittagong because of this.