BAHAWALPUR: Hundreds of furious wrestling fans stormed Dring Stadium on Tuesday and ransacked it. Police said the protesters had been duped into buying tickets for a dangal (wrestling event) that did not take place.
They said contractors Malik Hanif, Imtiaz Waran and Dada Gajj Pehlwan had filed an application with the Sports Department requesting permission to hold a dangal. However, they advertised the event and sold tickets before they had obtained permission to hold the event on July 12. Police said the posters they had circulated had carried pictures and names of famous pehlwans from all over the country. The poster had also carried the picture of one of the contractor’s posing with Minister Riaz Pirzada.
“This is why we thought the event was genuine,” one of the protesters said.
Police said thousands of tickets had been sold. The amount gathered would have amounted up to Rs3 million, they said.
On Tuesday, thousands of people arrived at the stadium and found out that the event would not take place. Police said some of them broke loudspeakers, chairs and tore down tents at Dring Stadium.
They later walked to Bahawalpur Radio Station and blocked the road for traffic. They held a demonstration against the event organisers and demanded action against them. A police contingent arrived at the demonstration and assured the protesters that they would take strict action against the contractors. A large group of spectators had travelled from Dera Ghazi Khan to attend the dangal. Ameer Ali, who had arranged for their transport, said he had had to rent private transport for the group. “We spent close to Rs100,000 hoping we would get to attend the dangal.” He said the contractors had conned thousands of people and demanded strict action against them.
Muhammad Ansar Khan, who had travelled from Muzaffargarh for the dangal, said the police must register an FIR against the organisers without delay. “I want the money I have spent on this back…the police has to make an example of these con artists.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2016.