A number of protesters were also arrested by the Kolkata Police on Wednesday.
Following the East Bengal officials’ decision to not sign the final agreement with investors Shree Cement, a number of the club’s fans forum had organized a protest in front of the club on July 21. Thousands of East Bengal fans gathered outside the club tent at Maidan – leading to a baton-charge by the city police on Wednesday.
A large number of supporters gathered outside to protest against the club officials. The club’s prominent official Debabrata ‘Nitu’ Sarkar, was the focal point of heated outcry. The fans used loud chants over wanting Sarkar to leave his position from within the club and sign the final agreement.
Eyewitnesses confirm that club officials conveyed a message through the police of meeting with three protestors to speak about the agreement. However, that offer was swiftly rejected by the aggravated fans.
The protestors made several accusations on a number of East Bengal officials. A majority of the fans demanded members of the executive committee to sign the agreement and resign from their roles in the club. They had previously claimed that prominent members of some major fan groups received threats prior to the protest.
Others claimed that ‘followers’ of Nitu Sarkar are causing major harm to the future of the club. A number of supporters also started to distribute a letter created by them to East Bengal club secretary Kalyan Majumder. They listed out their demands to the club officials and urging them to sign the final agreement.
The fans also demanded explanation over the executive committee’s refusal to sign the agreement with the investors. Many supporters pleaded to the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee to resolve the situation.
Banerjee played a huge role in helping the Red & Gold Brigade find Shree Cement as their investors in 2020. During the unveiling, she urged both parties to work together and maintain a healthy relationship for years to come. However, there is a major difference in vision among the executive committee members and investors currently.
In another twist to the tale, another group of supporters also protested against investors Shree Cement. They claimed that the investors had not stuck to their word and are trying to destroy the values within the club. They had urged Shree to work closely with the club officials and agree with their terms.
One such fan claimed that they ‘need to save the mother club’ first, before deciding in which competition to feature in. A number of female supporters also stood by the main gate of the East Bengal ground with banners. They sympathized with the current club officials, something which aggravated a number of fans.
This also resulted in a few scuffles between the supporters during the heated situation. Things soon went from bad to worse, with violence erupting.
According to Kolkata Police, a few supporters went on to destroy a police car in a fit of rage. This caused the police to lathi-charge the aggressive supporters to disperse them. Mounted police were also deployed outside the ground to clear the area. Unofficial sources report three fans sustained injuries and had to be hospitalised. However, Khel Now was unable to cross-check the claim.
With lockdown protocols still in place in Kolkata, the police revealed they will be taking legal measures against those gathered in large crowds. The city police had arrested at least four people, who were part of the protestors.
In the aftermath, East Bengal club has called an emergency executive committee meeting on Friday, July 23. A number of former East Bengal players may attend the meeting, which will focus into disclosing certain clauses of the agreement to them, after the chaos which ensued outside the ground on Wednesday.