Rex Clementine Reporting from Cardiff
Lapses in British intelligence and the security services were severely exposed after six supporters of the LTTE invaded the pitch during the Sri Lanka–India clash at the ICC Champions Trophy tournament.
During the second semi-final of the tournament on Thursday, two LTTE supporters invaded the pitch, carrying the LTTE flag in the penultimate over of the Sri Lankan innings.
Proving that there were serious lapses in security, five other supporters also carrying the LTTE flag marched onto the pitch during the Indian innings, and it took security officials more than a minute to bring the situation under control, as two of the supporters ran around mid-pitch.
One of them even attempted to put the LTTE flag on Sri Lankan opener Kusal Janith Perera. “We raised concerns with the ICC and immediately after that the security was beefed up as you could see,” a spokesman for the Sri Lankan team said.
Several Sri Lankan fans were at the receiving end after the game, as they left the ground after the match as the LTTE supporters attacked them. Four incidents of attacks were reported by the Police with two of them being described as serious.
Nilakshi Moonasinghe has been living in London for 20 years and she visited Cardiff along with her seven-year-old son and her cousin, who too had a seven-year-old son. She had to go through a tough ordeal. “We were advised by the supervisors not to leave the ground. They even said to take off the Sri Lankan shirts that we were wearing. There’s no way I was going to take off my Sri Lankan shirt. We left with a bunch of other Sri Lankan fans.
Even the Police requested us not to leave, but we were of the opinion that this was going to be a peaceful protest. We were on the main road (Cathedral Road), and as I turned around to wait for another Sri Lankan fan, someone came and wiped my face with chilly powder. I collapsed and I couldn’t see anything. I was worried about my children and I didn’t know what was going on. Then, I was taken into a pub and there they washed my face and we were in that pub for about an hour,” she told ‘The Island’.
“Then, as we came out, another group attacked us with some metal. I was severely bruised. The Police arrested a person, but overall, they weren’t prepared to handle the situation.”
“I was helped by a Welsh lady who was the owner of that pub. She took us in her car to where my car was parked and we returned to London,” she added.
“I have lived in this country for 20 years and I am not on a dole. I expect the police to protect me,” she further said.
There were other incidents as well as the tyres of the cars of Sri Lankan fans’ were deflated, and the LTTE supporters were trampling the Sri Lankan flag.
LTTE supporters have been protesting throughout the Champions Trophy, wherever Sri Lanka has played. But after Sri Lanka’s win against Australia on Monday, there was an incident, as a couple of Sri Lankan fans assaulted and threw objects at the protesters. Following the incident, there were rumours that LTTE sympathizers were organizing a mass scale protest in Cardiff, by bringing their supporters from London and there were fears that they could be violence as well.
POLICE ACTION OVER CARDIFF CRICKET MATCH
South Wales Police have taken action over disruptive incidents at the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff,Wales on June 20th during the ICC Champions Trophy Cricket Semi-final between India and Sri Lanka
Six men have been charged with aggravated trespass on the pitch and three men have been charged with criminal damage to a car, a public order offence, and assault outside the venue. They are all on police bail to appear at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on July 7.
One man has been given a fixed penalty notice for being drunk and disorderly and another arrested on suspicion of disorder remains in police custody, said South Wales Police.