Mohun Bagan, East Bengal fans clash, 40 hurt

Yuva Bharati Krirangan witnessed violence on Sunday, forcing the marquee I-League clash between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal to be called off, besides leaving 40 injured.The situation at the one-lakh-capacity stadium was, however, brought under control fast enough to avert a bigger tragedy.

Twenty policemen were injured in the scuffle, police sources said. Commissioner of Bidhannagar Police Rajiv Kumar suffered cuts in his cheek, source said, adding that three persons were detained in connection with the incident.

Forty-four minutes into the first half, trouble started. Referee Vishnu Chauhan deemed Mohun Bagan captain Okolie Odafa unfit to take further part in the game after the player charged at him and made threatening gestures. The decision added fuel to the fire and all hell broke loose. The police were outnumbered and the fans had the ammunition to go berserk in the terraces. They carried stones and bottles, and a few crackers as well.

Mohun Bagan's Rahim Nabi was hit by a stone that badly injured his head. Nabi was bleeding profusely and after some first aid at the ground he was taken to a hospital where his condition was said to be stable. Meanwhile, Odafa refused to leave the field after being shown the red card and the match was held up for close to 10 minutes. Finally, Mohun Bagan agreed to play the last few minutes of the first half. But they decided not to take the field after the break and sent a letter to match commissioner Gulab Singh Chauhan. Chauhan and other match officials waited for 30 minutes, but Mohun Bagan cited security reasons and stuck to their guns of not continuing with the match. The match commissioner had to announce the abandonment.

"I was concerned about the security of my players and that was the reason I decided not to play. A flare-up of violence could have caused serious problems," Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa said.

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