Team Baba’s mess


Two days before the Durand Cup is to kick-off, the members of Delhi Soccer Association (DSA) stood in the stands of the Ambedkar Stadium — looking at discarded paper plates, empty water bottles, cigarette stubs and carelessly dug holes in what was, till a day before, lush green grass turf.

Baba Ramdev and his supporters had made the stadium their own for the night, after police stopped their march to Parliament on Monday and decided to ferry all to a temporary jail in Bawana. But mid-way the plan was changed when police noticed the crowd moving at a snail's pace and blocking the evening rush-hour traffic. Ambedkar Stadium was chosen as the new venue for the temporary jail.

After negotiations, on Tuesday, Ramdev ordered the supporters to leave the stadium and continue the protest in Haridwar.

"You should have seen the grounds yesterday. The grass looked amazing. We have to work fast to get it ready," Ground Supervisor Kamar Upal said.

Officials said they have just one day to restore and prepare the ground for the tournament as the stadium will be sealed till 2 pm on August 15, owing to Independence Day celebrations.

The Durand Cup, which has been played at the stadium since 1940, is scheduled to start on Thursday.The knockout stages of the 125th edition of the tournament will begin with J&K Bank taking on Army Green at 2 pm, followed by Delhi United versus Indian Navy at 4 pm. The tournament ends September 1.

Till Tuesday evening, MCD workers, assisted by members of Yuva Bharat, were busy sweeping the ground clean as the organisers noted: "Sab ganda kar diya in logon ne (They left a mess here)."

The washrooms at the stadium could not bear the overnight burden of almost 3,000 people camping at the facility. So, the supporters took to relieving themselves in the corners. They bathed next to the stage.

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