The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Police, crowd battle in the stands

Calcutta: Several persons, including policemen, were injured when violence erupted among spectators during the CFL Super Division play-off final at Salt Lake Stadium Monday.

According to M.H. Verma, SP North 24 Parganas, seven police persons received injuries during the commotion. Fifteen people were detained but nobody was arrested, he added.

Play was held up for 25 minutes since the halftime when Mohammedan Sporting officials led their team off the field in protest against the police decision to clear parts of the stands of supporters.

East Bengal players, however, were waiting on the ground. But adding further twists to the pandemonium, organisers IFA decided to take the referee and other match officials off the ground, fearing further trouble.

Sanity, however, prevailed soon as Mohammedan Sporting players returned to the park. East Bengal won the match 3-0.

According to eyewitnesses, trouble began when firecrackers from nearby stands were dropped into the area earmarked for Mohammedan Sporting supporters. The latter protested in front of the police and after seeing no action from them, they hurled brickbats and even tried to break the wooden fencing.

East Bengal, who eventually emerged the League champions crushing Mohammedan Sporting 3-0, were leading by two goals at that time.

Mohammedan Sporting officials, however, alleged the police had beaten up their supporters “without any provocation”. “Our supporters were jeering the team for their poor performance and there’s nothing wrong in it. But the police misread it and chased them away”, said Sultan Ahmed, Mohammedn Sporting secretary. The club coach Mohammed Habeeb also supported his view. He also ruled out any provocation from the East Bengal stands.

Ahmed complained that more than 100 of his club supporters were injured in police action. East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick also came down on the incident. “This is ridiculous. Such thing only happens in Calcutta. There was absolutely no logic behind stopping the game,” he said.

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