STAFF REPORTER GUWAHATI, Oct 11 - In what has left the entire State embarrassed, unidentified miscreants on Tuesday night hurled a stone at the bus that had Australian cricket team and support staff on board, forcing both the State and Central governments to embark on a massive face saving exercise.
Cricket fans expressing apology for the stone-pelting incident, in Guwahati on Wednesday. – PTI
The stone broke through one of the window panes of the bus when the Australian cricket team was returning to their hotel following their series-levelling win over India at the Barsapara cricket stadium, which hosted its first ever international match on Tuesday. The incident took place about 2.5 km from the stadium.
The incident drew widespread criticism from across the globe with even Cricket Australia reacting sharply. Australian opener Aron Finch was the first to post the picture of a shattered window pane of the bus.
Immediately after the incident, Finch tweeted that “it was pretty scary having a rock thrown through the team bus window on the way back to the hotel.”
Although no one was injured, the incident raised a question mark over the security arrangements and route-lining of the buses carrying players and officials.
The driver and the handyman of the bus told media persons that after they heard the sound they realized that something was wrong and they chose not to stop till the bus reached the hotel.
While Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore called Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to enquire about the security scare, the latter too condemned the incident, saying that it was an attempt to tarnish the image of Assam as an emerging sports hub.
The Chief Minister assured that the guilty would be brought to book. He also directed Chief Secretary VK Pipersenia and Director General of Police Mukesh Sahay to initiate necessary action.
Sonowal himself witnessed the match at the newly-built stadium which saw a full house on its inaugural day.
Commissioner of Police (Guwahati) Hiren Nath said the stone which was pelted at the bus has been found but termed it as an “isolated” incident. He has directed Joint Commissioner Diganta Bora to conduct an investigation if there was any lapse in security.
“It does not look like it was a planned attack. It must be some antisocial elements whom we are trying to identify,” Nath told this reporter.
When contacted, Assam Cricket Association (ACA) secretary Pradip Buragohain termed it as an unfortunate incident and expressed apprehensions that it may affect the chances of hosting prestigious matches here in the future.
“The entire match was played in the right spirit and the spectators too were very sporting throughout the match. Such an act is totally uncalled for,” said Buragohain, stating that those responsible should be booked.
The All Assam Students Union also condemned the incident seeking immediate arrest of the culprits.
Later, a delegation of the State government called on the Australian players to apprise them about the steps taken after the incident.
It may be mentioned that Guwahati at present is also hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup matches.