40 injured as Mohun Bagan-East Bengal derby called off
Kolkata: A wave of violence on Sunday engulfed the gigantic Yuva Bharati Krirangan, forcing the marquee I-League clash between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal to be called off, besides leaving 40 injured.
The situation at the over-one-lakh-capacity stadium was, however, brought under control fast enough to avert a bigger tragedy.
The casualties included 20 policemen who were injured in the scuffle, police sources said.
Commissioner of Bidhannagar Police, Rajiv Kumar was also injured and suffered cuts in his cheek, the source said, adding three persons were detained in connection with the incident.
Reminding one of the violence during another Mohun Bagan-East Bengal derby at the Eden Gardens on August 16, 1980 in which where 16 football fans were killed and scores injured, fans today started pelting stones and bricks into the field after Mohun Bagan's star recruit Okolie Odafa was given the marching orders by the referee.
This occurred soon after East Bengal drew the first blood through Harmanjot Khabra in the 43rd minute from a Mehtab Hossain freekick.
Mohun Bagan forward Syed Rahim Nabi was injured after one of the bricks thrown from the stands hit him on his face. As Nabi had to be hospitalised, the Bagan players came off the field. The match was called off after Bagan refused to field their players in the second half.
The highly charged-up game snowballed into madness soon after Mohun Bagan's star player Odafa was sent off by Vishnu Chauhan for showing dissent.
As soon as the Nigerian was sent off, Mohun Bagan fans started to hurl missiles, one of them hitting Nabi's face.
Surprisingly, the spectators managed to sneak in a large number of stones and bricks, apart from sticks and crackers, into the stands, despite heavy police presence.
Bidhannagar Police sources claimed that the hooligans had managed to break concrete slabs in the stadium and used these pieces as missiles.
"This could have led to a situation like the 1980 incident at the Eden Gardens," Arup Basu, a spectator who had been present during that incident, said.
But the situation was brought under control with the police forcing the the spectators out of the stadium soon after.
Some of the hooligans targetted the passing cars and vehicles carrying supporters of the opponent team, but the police immediately chased them away.
"Attempts were made to create trouble, but the hooligans were chased away and smooth flow of traffic was restored soon," Kolkata Police sources said.