Home Government and Public Policy ‘Pro-Palestinian’ pitch invader is habitual offender ‘seeking social media fame’

‘Pro-Palestinian’ pitch invader is habitual offender ‘seeking social media fame’

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‘Pro-Palestinian’ pitch invader is habitual offender ‘seeking social media fame’

‘Pro-Palestinian’ pitch invader is habitual offender ‘seeking social media fame’

A pitch intruder during The Final match of The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup India 2023 between India and Australia at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

A pitch intruder during The Final match of The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup India 2023 between India and Australia at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
| Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The pro-Palestinian supporter of Australian origin, Wen Johnson (24), who ran onto the pitch during the India-Australia cricket World Cup final on Sunday, was on Monday evening produced before the sessions court in Gandhinagar after he was detained by Ahmedabad crime branch. He has been sent to police custody for one-day . 

He ran onto the ground at Narendra Modi Stadium just before the drinks break at around 3pm. He was apprehended by security personnel after he approached Virat Kohli. 

Johnson wore a face mask bearing the Palestine flag and a T-shirt with ‘Stop bombing Palestine’ and ‘Save Palestine’ slogans on the front and back.

He was arrested by Chandkheda police on charges of criminal trespass (section 447) and causing hurt to deter public servants from doing their duty (section 332).

Security lapse

His intrusion was seen as a major security lapse. Over a 100 VIPs including the Union Home Minister Amit Shah were in the audience. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s Deputy PM also joined later that evening. 

The city police commissioner transferred the case from Chandkheda police to Crime Branch, which presented Johnson in a court in Gandhinagar to seek his remand for further probe.

Advocate VS Vaghela, appearing for Johnson, told reporters his client was remanded in police custody till 5pm on Tuesday though the Crime Branch had sought 10-day custody on various grounds.

According to the FIR, Johnson, who entered the stadium as a spectator, first jumped the railing and then ran towards the pitch after pushing aside on-duty policemen in his attempt to reach Kohli.

Johnson told the police he was a big fan of Kohli, the FIR said, adding as many as 15 policemen were guarding ‘Point number R-88’ from where he jumped the fence.

The ICC does not allow any political sloganeering during events organised by the global governing body of cricket and no protests are allowed in India.

Repeat offender

A preliminary probe has revealed Johnson is a habitual offender and has been booked in his home country for invading sports fields in the past, police inspector Viraj Jadeja said. 

“Johnson told us he is a fan of Virat Kohli and wanted to meet him during the match. He wore the pro-Palestine T-shirt just for the sake of it. Otherwise, his main aim was to meet Kohli,” the police officer had said.

According to a Crime Branch release issued on Monday, Johnson entered the field during a FIFA Women’s World Cup football match this year wearing a ‘Free Ukraine’ T-shirt.

In some videos and photos he has shared on his Instagram handle ‘pyjamamann’, he can be seen intruding during football games and being taken away by security personnel.

In 2020 in Australia, he entered the field during a ‘State of Origin III’ rugby match in Brisbane.

The Police release stated that “Johnson is in the habit of associating himself with any current international issue and invading fields just to get publicity to become famous as a TikToker.”

“A probe has revealed his father is of Chinese origin while his mother is from The Philippines. He lives in Sydney and works with a solar panel firm,” said the release.

The Police checked the video footage and found that while entering the gate, he had put on the blue jersey of the Indian team over the T-shirt that had the pro-Palestine slogans. He then removed the jersey before running towards Kohli.

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