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Mamata double strike on football pitch

- CM feels stalled derby should have resumed
Bagan players after trouble broke out on Sunday

Mamata Banerjee has said the Mohun Bagan-East Bengal derby that was called off midway last Sunday should have resumed and the dispute settled on the ground, slighting Bagan’s Trinamul bosses while appearing to score a goal for sportsmanship.

Duto group-er moddhe sabai thik….Kono club-er keu kharap na. Aami mone kori kokhono kokhono emotionally ekjon-dujon bhul kore felte pare, ebong sheta settle kore newa uchit khelar mathey…. Abar khela chalu howa uchit bole ami mone kori (Both sides are right. Nobody from any of the clubs is bad. Sometimes someone can turn emotional and commit a mistake, but it should be settled on the ground itself…The game should have resumed after that),” the chief minister said on Thursday at the Calcutta police investiture ceremony in Science City.

It was Mamata’s first remark in public on the match that sent Mohun Bagan midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi to hospital after a stone pelted from the stands fractured a cheekbone, prompting his team to refuse to play the rest of the derby citing lack of security. Bagan is run by former Trinamul MP Swapan Sadhan (Tutu) Bose and his son Srinjoy, who is a sitting Rajya Sabha MP from the party. Their club faces the prospect of being banned from national football for two years for refusing to resume Sunday’s match.

Mamata praised the police’s role at Salt Lake stadium that day. “The police are not to be blamed. With limited strength, they did their best. Bidhannagar commissioner Rajeev (Kumar) himself was injured. But he and his force continued to do duty even after that,” she said.

The match commissioner too said in his report that the police had brought the situation “under control” and the match could have resumed, contradicting Bagan’s insistence that it was unsafe to continue playing and the club bosses’ attempts to heap all the blame on the cops.

“Spectators hurling stones at the players or the police is not new. There was initially a problem in handling the situation when Odafe Okolie (the Bagan captain) was shown a red card. Then Nabi was hit. But we took control within minutes,” an officer said.

Chief minister Mamata said it was improper to highlight “small mistakes” by the police, distorting their image in the public eye and encouraging people to have a go at them.

“Nobody has the right to attack the police, just as nobody has the right to attack me or anyone in the Opposition,” she said.

Mamata’s remarks came three days after sports minister Madan Mitra pleaded with the All India Football Federation for leniency towards Bagan.

Mohun Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra said: “We wanted to play the match on Sunday. If we intended to walk out, we could have done it when Nabi got hurt. But we didn’t. We wanted to return to the field and continue the match. But after halftime, things went out of control. So we decided against playing the match.”

While agreeing with Mamata that “these problems should have been sorted out on the field”, Mitra said Mohun Bagan would “show how things are done” when the club gets to organise a match.

Mamata on traffic

The chief minister admitted on Thursday that traffic management in parts of Calcutta had gone for a toss, echoing former cricketer Geoffrey Boycott who had said last week that “it takes forever to reach anywhere” in the city.

“Traffic needs to be improved. There is congestion due to construction along Science City and near Behala, where work on the Metro is underway. Sometimes traffic is stuck on Central Avenue too,” she said.