An order by the district police chief of Wayanad, a hill district of Kerala known for its sports enthusiasts and academies, has riled sports lovers across the state.
The order issued by District Police Chief Aravind Sukumar two days ago has made it illegal to operate flood-lit football turfs — scores of which have sprung up in the state in recent years — from operating beyond 10 PM.
Interestingly, the whole point of having flood-lit football turfs — which are usually one half or one third the size of a normal football pitch — was to allow people with regular daytime jobs to engage in their passion for football at night.
Moreover, the temperature in the coastal state falls 25-30° C at night, making it more comfortable to engage in vigorous games such as football, volleyball and badminton.
Not surprisingly, most of the turfs see action only when the sun goes down, with the last game winding up close to mid night.
People can book slots at the rate of around Rs 1,000-2,000 per hour in these facilities, which are now present even in the smaller towns of Kerala.
The district police administration has justified its move after coming under a barrage of criticism from sports enthusiasts under its Facebook post.
Out of the 1,100 reactions to the announcement, over 900 are laughing and mocking emojis, while nearly all the 500-plus comments are negative.
In the comments, citizens have questioned the police’s logic that having night time football gives young men a chance to leave home in the name of football and engage in criminal and antisocial activities.
“It has come to our attention that college and school students are roaming around at night, after telling their parents that they are heading to the turf,” the notice issued by the police said.
The issue has struck a nerve in a state known for its sports culture and where it is normal for most adults to engage in daily outdoor sports activities after work.
People have mercilessly mocked the order in their comments, comparing the police chief to a hostel warden and asking for the exact law under which football clubs have been prohibited from operating beyond 10 PM, when no such restrictions are placed on other commercial establishments such as bars.
Many commenters point out that the police cannot issue an outright ban on an activity simply because it increases the chances of a crime or accident taking place..
‘Are you going to ban driving because it can lead to road accidents? Are you going to ban colleges because students leave their homes saying they are going to the college and then head for the beach or the park?’ and so on are some of the questions that have been repeated by outraged sports lovers under the post.
Many have also alleged that the police is simply trying to lessen their workload at the expense of people’s right to have fun.
“It is the duty of the police to maintain law and order. By doing this, you are essentially saying we are too lazy to do our job..if one goes by this logic, even schools and colleges will have to be shut down,” pointed out Akhil Raj, a resident of Kochi.