Delhi Police now face ire over French circus

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) More than 2,000 people, including children, from the capital and the National Capital Region (NCR) were denied entry at the French trapeze theatre “Flying Angels” at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium late Sunday.

Police jostled around women and children at the entrance, and shut the gates on them.

Many women complained of “being roughed up by policemen who were rude and brash”.

Many of those who were turned away at the gates – including government officials and even politicians with families – carried invitation passes to the event. The performance was described as free-for-all, a phrase to which the police added their special twist.

The event marked the end of Bon Jour Festival of France in India. It was hailed by critics as the first-of-its-kind street circus to have come out of France, the cradle of new-age circus, to India.

It had incorporated Indian acts to relate to the local audience. The theatre that opened at 7.15 p.m. at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium annexe was expected to accommodate 10,000 people, the organisers had said.

But at 7 p.m., Delhi Police shut the gates and controlled the approaches to the stadium, saying the venue had overshot capacity. There were barely 5,000 people inside.

The police curbs unleashed a ruckus, with invitees protesting against police high-handedness.

“We were given passes to the event from the embassy after we came to know of it from Internet. We came all the way from Sundar Nagari, but we were not allowed in,” complained social worker Asha Khanna.

She said the organisers had distributed 700 passes for barely 70 seats. The rest of the audience was expected to stand.

A member of Teamworks Productions, which had managed the event, said the police had closed the gates after the stadium was packed to capacity. “The visitors collected the passes from various outlets across the city,” he told IANS.

A member of the event management team said: “The passes did not exceed the number of seats… We cannot blame police.”

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