The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is expected to step in to resolve the issue of a ban on superstar Shah Rukh Khan from entering Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium. Sources say the BCCI is unhappy with the decision of the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) to bar the actor, who also owns the IPL team the Kolkata Knight Riders, from the stadium for five years.
The sources say the board is working the back channels now to resolve the issue. It reportedly holds that the ban is not in order as IPL franchises pay for use of stadia and cricket grounds. The MCA has banned Shah Rukh from entering Wankhede even as a spectator and the association, which administers the stadium, says it is well within its right to do so. But Rajiv Shukla, who is chairman of the IPL, has said while the MCA can propose a ban, the BCCI will make a final call.
Shah Rukh Khan, who himself is dismissive about the ban, has found political support in the last two days that he has been battling the MCA over a Wednesday evening scuffle at the Wankhade stadium after a KKR-Mumbai Indian match. Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister, has said she will appeal that the decision to ban him be reconsidered.
"We love everybody, from Shah Rukh to Sachin to Sourav...But Shah Rukh is our brand ambassador...I don't want to interfere in any other state's business, I don't want what I am saying distorted, this is a sensitive matter. I will appeal, please reconsider the decision," Ms Banerjee said.
Other politicians batted for Shah Rukh too. Like Lalu Prasad who said the ban on the actor was all wrong and suggested that the IPL be wound up. Fellow IPL team owner and MP Vijaya Mallya said, "SRK is passionate about his team and about children...IPL has no role to play here. It is strictly between the MCA and affected person regarding the entry into Wankhede Stadium." The National Conference's Farooq Abdullah said Shah Rukh was an icon and so must be calmer.
Early today, the head of the MCA, Vilasrao Deshmukh, announced the association's decision to ban Shah Rukh. He said after his fight at the stadium on Wednesday night, the actor had "shown no regrets for his action and behaviour...in fact, he justified his actions of manhandling security guards and abusing MCA officials." Mr Deshmukh said that the MCA considered a life ban but then unanimously decided that they would ban him from the stadium for five years to send out a message.
A police complaint has been registered against the actor for voluntarily causing hurt and for criminal intimidation - because this is a non-cognizable offence, SRK as he is known cannot be arrested. The police will study all the statements made so far by everyone involved in the incident, including eyewitnesses, to chalk out the exact sequence of events and then will corroborate it with CCTV footage from stadium. The MCA reportedly reviewed the footage before announcing its decision today.
Shah Rukh Khan said on Thursday that he was provoked after security guards touched a group of children he was accompanying, which included his daughter. Photographs of the brawl show his daughter, holding his arm as he confronts officials and the guard. The MCA says that the actor should recognize that officials showed "great restraint" in how they handled the situation. "If anybody behaves like this...whosoever it may be...action will be taken," Mr Deshmukh said. He also said that while the actor has said he was trying to protect children, no complaint has been registered by SRK against the guards or officials.
The trouble began on Wednesday night when SRK's team was playing the Mumbai Indians. SRK did not attend the match but arrived there later to pick up his children and their friends. In his police complaint, the security guard, Vikas Dalvi, says he saw SRK and his entourage in the players' dressing room and asked them to vacate it because it can only be used by team members. The actor and his entourage then tried to walk onto the grounds of the stadium, the guard says. Mr Dalvi says when he tried to stop them, he was told "We have bought this place...who are you to stop us?" Mr Dalvi's complaint says that three members of Shah Rukh's entourage pushed him.
A complaint by an official of the MCA, Nitin Dalal, who was present during the fight states that SRK appeared drunk and used abusive language against officials, including obliquely against Mr Deshmukh.
Shah Rukh Khan has categorically denied that he was drunk when he went to the stadium. Or that he pushed or manhandled anyone. He admits he used abusive language; he says he got angry when he saw stadium officials pushing the children, who were playing with a ball on the sidelines.
Fitness expert Deanne Pandey, whose children were among those that had accompanied Shah Rukh Khan's children to the stadium said, "My son was there with SRK & other kids, @iamsrk did the right thing by protecting our babies, why doesn't the media/officers see that, so angry," she had tweeted. The photograph used here shows the children playing on the field.
He has also found much support in the film industry.