A few minutes after President Pranab Mukherjee’s and other dignitaries’ choppers took off from the MIDC ground in Airoli, children from the neighbouring locality, who were barred from entering the grounds for the last few days, ran into it with much enthusiasm. MiD DAY had earlier reported about how these kids were among those who were not very happy about the President’s arrival, as their playground was taken over by police officials for security reasons.
Most of the children
SUNDAY MiD DAY spoke to said that they lived in nearby localities and that the MIDC ground was among the few open spaces they liked playing in. And with Christmas and New Year holidays, they had a lot more time to play. Shubhangi Tikte said that she was standing far away from the ground when the choppers took off. “Once the helicopters took off, we rushed to the ground to play a game of football. Although there were a few police officials, they did not say anything to us,” said the 13-year-old.
Sushil Kamble from Anna Bhau Sathe Nagar in Digha, Navi Mumbai, said that he missed playing on the ground. “In fact, we were afraid to enter the ground as there were so many police officials there. And when we tried to enter the ground, the cops asked us not to play there,” he added.
The President arrived in Kalwa on Friday to inaugurate the 12-feet-long statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji after which he, along with other political leaders, proceeded to the police parade ground in Thane.
Thirteen-year-old Gautam Thorate, also from Digha, said that although he wanted to watch the helicopter, he was not allowed to come close to the ground. “So, my friends and I stood far away and watched the chopper land and take off. It was very fascinating. Later in the day we went close to where the helicopter landed and the chalk markings became useful for our own games,” he added.