Kolkata soccer-crazy, no need for probe: Govt

Mohun Bagan

Injured player undergoes surgery

A day after violence marred the I-League derby between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal at the Salt Lake stadium, Sports Minister Madan Mitra hailed police performance as "fantastic".

Forty people were injured as the cops started to cane a marauding crowd after Bagan captain Okolie Odafa was sent off by referee Vishnu Chauhan. Bagan refused to take the field in the second half, showing security reasons, and the match had to be called off. The government, however, is not going to launch an inquiry into the incident.

"I don't think anything very grave has happened for the government to open an inquest. Contrary to the reports, only one person was injured from a turnout of more than 1 lakh. So I must say police did a fantastic job and showed restraint even after the commissioner (Bidhannagar Police) was hurt. Football violence is a common occurrence in Argentina, Uruguay, England and other soccer-crazy countries. Kolkata is no different," Mitra told The Indian Express.

The fans roamed freely in the terraces, carrying stones, bottles and crackers as there were very little security checks at the turnstiles. At Eden Gardens, security was foolproof during the third Test match between India and England. At Salt Lake, however, metal detectors were in short supply.

"The match started at 2 pm and the crowd started gathering in front of the gates from 1.45 pm. If everyone is asked to undergo screening with a metal detector in just 15 minutes, then there could have been a stampede," Mitra argued.

He, however, called for life bans for fans who throw objects at the players. "Those people should be identified and banned for life from entering any stadium. Also, proper legal action should be taken against them."

At the same time, the sports minister asked the players and clubs to be more responsible towards their duties.

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