The Roshanara Club, where the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was conceived in the December of 1927, eventually leading to its formation a year later, and was Delhi cricket’s second home in case of Ferozeshah Kotla’s unavailability, was sealed on Friday morning by the Delhi Development Authority.
Patriot had reported the likelihood of its sealing on Thursday night following non-renewal of lease of two land parcels. The first lease had expired in 2012 while the other one expired in 2017.
There was hectic activity since early Friday morning at the club located in North Delhi’s Shakti Nagar as the police force took over after the break of dawn. All the areas, including the ground, kitchen, lounge and offices were sealed.
The members, who used to avail multiple facilities, were not allowed entry.
The two leases had expired on August 31, 2012, and December 31, 2017.
The DDA had passed an order on April 12 this year for eviction but the Roshanara Club management appealed in the court. The lower court dismissed it on September 25, and sent a notification to DDA on September 27, Wednesday, through a letter allowing DDA to proceed with the action of eviction.
“Now, therefore, the undersigned as Estate Officer, Central Zone, New Delhi, in exercise of powers conferred upon him under section 5(2) of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, hereby evicts Roshanara Club Ltd and takes possession of Roshanara Club Ltd on 29.09.2023,” said a notice from DDA, which was pasted at the club premises on Friday morning.
The club office-bearers and members had received information on Thursday itself and senior office-bearer had confirmed that there is a likelihood of sealing.
“The entire premises have been made out-of-bounds for its approximately 4500 members,” said Club treasurer Amit Garg to Patriot.
The club secretary Rajan Manchanda said, “We have a staff of 500 people. Their livelihood is at stake and it can affect 3,000-4,000 people in their families. If the club isn’t de-sealed, we may not be able to pay them their salaries.”
The Roshanara Club management hasn’t yet approached the court.
It has been learnt from sources that the staff had been demanding a hike in salaries and the club had been agreeable to only a part raise.
The club’s grounds have seen many big names display their skills here.
Prakash Bhandari, Delhi’s oldest Test cricketer alive, said he played some games at the venue in the 1950s. So did the late MAK ‘Tiger’ Pataudi and Mohinder Amarnath.
Former India stumper Surinder Khanna, who is now a member of DDCA’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), notched his highest first-class score of 220 not out at the ground during a Ranji Trophy game in 1987.
“It was always a green wicket. I remember smashing the bowlers around the ground. I shared a 300-plus (348) run partnership with Manu Nayyar,” Khanna recalled to Patriot.
That season many of Delhi’s international stalwarts, Kirti Azad, Mohinder Amarnath, Manoj Prabhakar and Madan Lal, had played at the venue.
The club also saw matches during this century whenever Kotla wasn’t available.
It was the then Delhi skipper Gautam Gambhir’s preferred option (in early last decade) since he looked for victories for full points and the flat Kotla pitch did not allow him that.
Importantly, Virat Kohli got his first taste of captaincy in senior days’ cricket here only. In December 2009, former India opener Aakash Chopra was sacked as Delhi skipper. Kohli was given Delhi captaincy for the first time at Roshanara and he took the team to an eight-wicket win over Saurashtra in a Ranji Trophy game with an 86-ball 88.
That win was the first peep at his aggressive captaincy that was to have a huge impact on the Indian team in the future.
Ex-India batsman Abbas Ali Baig, who has played only friendlies here, said, “I used play friendlies for British High Commission against club sides. It was like a picnic. Peaceful and lovely surroundings. Unhappy to see it get sealed.”