No games, only fairs at Outer Stadium
The Chittagong Outer Stadium has recently fallen under the grip of various fairs and other anti-social programs. Once home to cricketing stalwarts like Akram Khan, Minhajul Abedin Nannu, Tamim Iqbal, Nurul Abedin Nobel, and Aftab Ahmed it is now almost never used for its actual purpose of games and sports.
The playground, located adjacent to the Circuit House and Kazir Dewari area, is one of the biggest open spaces in Chittagong city and fairs including Bijoy Mela, Textile Fair, Swadhinata Mela and Boishakhi Mela are being held there on a regular basis depriving local youngsters and players from playing games and tournaments at the stadium.
Locals complain that a variety of shows with vulgar dances and songs, lotteries and raffle draws regularly take place in and around the fair ground. Starting from around 11:00am and continuing till late at night, the programmes are conducted using loud speakers.
“The announcers use some local words, which are often offensive to women, to attract people to buy tickets of the raffle draws and lotteries,” said Shahidul Islam a local boy.
According to locals, law enforcers turn a blind eye against the activities as some local leaders of the ruling Awami League are involved in arranging the said programmes.
Contacted, Awami League leader Kazi Enamul Haque Danu said that they have organised the fair by taking permission from Bangladesh Army, who are the owners of the playground.
“We have taken lease of the ground for one month in April,” he said, adding that “the income from the fair would be donated to the freedom fighters' fund.”
When asked about the obscene dances and songs and the use of loudspeakers, he denied any knowledge of such.
Hafizur Rahman, former general secretary of Chattagram Jila Krira Sangstha (CJKS), said that the Army gave permission to the Chittagong District Sports Association to use the ground for 99 years to hold outdoor games and tournaments. Later in 1999, the Bangladesh Army filed a case against the CJKS for constructing a structure for market on one side of the playground.
When contacted, Ehashan Elahi, deputy commissioner in Chittagong, and also chairman of cricket committee of the CJKS, told The Daily Star that as the Army gave the permission to hold the fair, so they should also take actions to prevent any immoral activities at the playground.
“Certainly, there are some terms and conditions, when permission has been given to use the ground,” he said adding that “police and army are responsible to stop the unethical activities at the fair”.
“We are trying to get back the playground from Bangladesh army”, Elahi said adding that three cases are pending with the higher court for disposal in this regard.
Nurul Abedin Nobel, the former cricketer of the national team, said, “Outdoor games and tournaments should be the main features of the playground and it should not be used for other purposes”,
The former opener of national team recalling his own memories at the stadium saying, “I, myself, from my very childhood grew up playing in this field”.
Other eminent personalities in Chittagong also urged to bring back the sporting environment of the playground.