East Bengal: Police lathi-charge supporters after fiery protests erupt in Maidan

East Bengal fans staged a massive protest in front of the club tent but a clash among them led police to resort to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd.

The Leslie Claudis street in Kolkata witnessed a rare sight on Wednesday when two factions of East Bengal supporters clashed with each other leading to a scuffle and subsequent lathi-charge by the Kolkata Police. One set of supporters raised slogans against the club officials demanding Debabrata Sarkar, aka Nitu Da, to offer his resignation. The other group lent their voice in support of the authorities.

Fans had started to gather in front of the club tent from 1 PM in the afternoon after a clarion call on social media called for a protest against the club officials. However, when the situation started to turn violent, mounted police were also called in to disperse the crowd.

This is the first time that such a scene was witnessed as two groups of red-and-yellow supporters ended up fighting. No supporter was grievously injured but as per the latest update, five of them had to be taken to the hospital after they complained of illness.

It all began after East Bengal club officials decided not to sign the final agreement with investor Shree Cement Limited, citing differences in the term sheet and final agreement. This brought uncertainty for SC East Bengal to participate in Indian Super League (ISL).

With the future of the red and gold brigade in doubt, fans have been very vocal about what they feel about the club, and they have not held themselves back even amidst the pandemic.

Amidst the Covid-19 crisis, more than 500 people thronged the area around Maidan as Covid protocols went for a toss. Using a loudspeaker, police officials urged the crowd to follow the norms but hardly anyone paid heed to it. Female protestors were also present.

General secretary Kalyan Majumdar, in a statement, released a statement later in the evening which read: “We will not sign the agreement where the members will lose their fundamental rights, where the club will be permanently handed over and we will lose the right over ground, logo, tent.”

Meanwhile, AIFF secretary Kushal Das spoke on the incident and said: “It is an unfortunate event that fans are being beaten by the club. However, I am afraid AIFF cannot interfere as it is a internal matter for East Bengal Club. The transfer window is on and other clubs are signing players, time is running out.”

In the previous ISL season, East Bengal finished ninth.

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