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East Bengal fans held for abuse and assault

A moment from Tuesday’s  East Bengal-Aizawl FC match at Salt Lake stadium. Picture by Gautam Bose

Salt Lake: Eight East Bengal supporters have been arrested for allegedly hurling abuse at supporters of Aizawl FC during an I-League match and assaulting a steward when he intervened.

Civic police volunteer Arghya Halder, who had been deployed in one of the viewing galleries of Salt Lake stadium as a steward during Tuesday's match, got beaten up because he had asked the East Bengal brigade to leave the stands if they could not be respectful towards the Mizoram team's fans.

"The men became violent (on being told to go). They pushed the steward to the ground and hit him," said Amit P. Javalgi, deputy commissioner (headquarters) of Bidhannagar City Police.

Some cops came to Arghya's rescue on hearing the commotion. At least two of them were injured in the scuffle, Javalgi said

Aizawl FC fans being abused marks a new low for fan behaviour in a city that has had its share of clashes between supporters of rival teams, mainly Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. A few of those have taken place at Salt Lake stadium.

Ironically, the fans who were allegedly abused on Tuesday are from a state that has contributed three players to the current East Bengal team - midfielders Laldanmawia Ralte and Brandon Vanlalremdika and defender Lalramchullova.

Bidhannagar police convened a meeting with officials of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan on Wednesday to request that their supporters be advised to maintain peace in the galleries. "The arrangements that were in place for the FIFA U-17 World Cup are the new norm for Salt Lake stadium. Strict action will be taken against troublemakers," Javalgi said.

The arrested East Bengal fans are Ranjan Bhattacharyya, Dibyendu Roy, Deep Roy, Rajib Barman, Partha Das, Kamal Sikdar, Subrata Sarkar and Arup Chandra.

Ranjan's father Ratan Bhattacharyya said the argument with the steward had nothing to do with rival fans being targeted.

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