Calcutta: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, on Wednesday, intervened to ensure that the Thursday’s CFL Premier Division match between Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting Club was held on schedule after the Bidhannagar police commissionerate refused to arrange security due to lack of personnel to man the Salt Lake Stadium.
The stadium witnessed violence when Bagan played East Bengal in an I-League match on December 9. Bagan, it might be recalled, did not take the field after half-time citing player safety concerns.
A senior official at the Writers’ said: “The chief minister came to know on Wednesday morning that the Salt Lake commissionerate had refused to arrange security and the match was on the verge of being cancelled. She called up the sports minister, Madan Mitra, and sought the details.”
According to the official, Mitra told the chief minister he was not aware of the impasse. “Sports department officials then contacted the IFA and wanted to know the details.
“The IFA informed the sports department that the Bidhannagar commissioner of police, Rajeev Kumar, had sent a letter to the IFA informing the body that it would not be able to post policemen for Thursday’s match,” said an official.
The sport department officials then asked the IFA to forward them a copy of the commissioner’s letter. When the copy reached the sports department, it was sent to the chief minister’s office. “Soon after this, senior officials of the home department headed by Mamata Banerjee called up the commissioner and asked him to arrange the required security,” said a senior sports department official.
Sources said the Mamata was upset because the commissioner did not keep state government in the loop. Instead, he had directly written the letter to the IFA. “According to the government protocol the commissioner should have written the letter to the state home department citing the reasons behind his inability to arrange security,” a senior government official said.
When contacted, Mitra said: “Tomorrow’s match will be held according to schedule.”
Bagan blamed the IFA for the confusion. “First the IFA said the match is postponed. And in the very next moment, it says the game is on. They are completely clueless,” Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra said.
Mohammedan Sporting secretary Jameel Manzar though said there was no confusion. “Even on Wednesday morning, the IFA informed us the match was very much on,” he said.
The IFA, meanwhile, said the difficulty in providing enough police personnel at the venue was the main reason behind the confusion. “The Salt Lake commissionerate had initially said that they would not be able to provide security. But the problem was resolved and the match would be played on Thursday,” secretary Utpal Ganguli said.