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Dubai: Cricket-crazy prisoners who are serving their terms in the Dubai Central Jail are disappointed for not being able to watch their favourite sport on television.

Mostly from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, the prisoners have alleged that one of their inmates who is in charge of the television has blocked cricket channels with the help of the jail management and switches on only football telecasts.

The jail authorities however has denied their allegation and said the cricket channels have been blocked to prevent the prisoners from fighting over their teams and gambling.

Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Hakeem Al Munser, Director of Dubai Jail for men at Dubai Rehabilitation and Corrective Establishment (Central Jail) told Gulf News yesterday that it was not true that the foreman is controlling the TV channels that the prisoners can watch. "We disconnect the cricket channels because the prisoners gamble on the matches," he said.

"Watching cricket is our only entertainment in jail and we love this game," said a prisoner from India.

"It is our national game and we love to watch it," added a Pakistani.

A Sir Lankan said cricket is his passion since he was a child and he feels very bad if he misses the games.

"This is unfair. Why the jail management is allowing prisoners to watch football games and do not allow the prisoners to watch cricket games," questioned an Arab prisoner. "Most of the prisoners in the jail are Asians and they love to watch cricket," he said.

The prisoners contacted Gulf News to air their grievances as they were upset as they could not watch the matches.

"We have prisoners from more than 100 different nationalities and the jail management cannot afford to give a TV channel for each one of them to watch," Lt Col Al Munser said.

"The official TV channels show programmes in English and Arabic but we also allow Indian TV channels from 1pm till 5pm," he said.

"We have large number of Iranian prisoners, Chinese, Russian and many other nationalities who also want to watch TV," he added.