Chaos at Eden! Several injured in stampede as Bengal felicitates KKR, Juhi, SRK
Chaos reigned supreme at the Kolkata Knight Riders' felicitation ceremony at the Eden Gardens as several persons were injured after police resorted to lathi charge to control the unruly crowd
Kolkata: Bollywood, cricket and politics united in a lavish ceremony Tuesday, giving a royal salute to 2014 Indian Premier League champions, the Kolkata Knight Riders, and team owners Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla at a crowded Eden Gardens here.
View Pictures: King Khan and his Knights party after IPL 7 triumph
Amid heightened security cover, the stadium's green turf was deluged in a sea of purple as nearly 50,000 fans, decked up in sports merchandise, and waiting with bated breath since morning, erupted in joy to get a glimpse of the players flanked by SRK, Juhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shah Rukh Khan and players during a felicitation ceremony for the team's victory at IPL-7 tournament at Eden Garden in Kolkata on Tuesday.
However, the scenes of merriment in the historic ground did not match the chaos outside, as seven sports enthusiasts were injured in stampedes as they clambered over police barricades to gain entry into the arena. While some fell down, others were baton charged by the vastly outnumbered security personnel.
Police denied any cane charging, but claimed six of its personnel were injured.
Though entry was made free, passes distributed were far less than the huge demand. Passes were even sold at high prices by blackers.
But the gala affair on a 64x32 foot dais at Eden was nothing short of a major Bollywood event. Confetti rained down across the arena as Banerjee entered the stadium, and King Khan's arrival after a three-hour delay due to a technical snag in his flight drew tumultuous applause.
Dressed smartly in a white KKR jersey, a ponytailed SRK cut a giant cake - in the shape of a stadium iced with the words KKR - accompanied by Juhi, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir and Banerjee.
Shah Rukh was - as expected - the centre of attraction - as he partied and threw kisses towards the galleries.
The Knights flanked by Shah Rukh and Chawla paraded the golden trophy for the sports buffs in the stadium, while around 1.5 lakh stood outside, unable to make it inside.
The crowd went wild as Shah Rukh, donning a hat, blew kisses, waved and did a few steps of his popular song "Lungi Dance" atop an elevated podium. An exuberant Juhi walked with the players as KKR's anthem "Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo" was sung in the background by singer Usha Uthup.
"I don't think any other state or any other country in the world has this kind of support or love Asporting heroes. So thank you Kolkata for supporting us through thick and thin.
"I thank you on behalf of the team. We will keep up the hard work. We enjoy your claps as well as your admonitions," said Shah Rukh.
Parodying his famous dialogue from the film "Don", the icon said in his inimitable style: "Don ko agar koi pakad sakte hain toh woh KKR supporters hain (Only KKR's supporters can catch the elusive Don)."
The chief minister, who virtually conducted the show, hugged and congratulated SRK fot the team's stellar performance.
"Thank you for the marvellous win," she said.
"We thank Mamata di for being kind to us always. You make it feel as if it our own house," SRK returned the compliments, touching Banerjee's feet and later planting a kiss on her hand.
The splendid affair - jointly organised by the state government, Kolkata Police, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) - was attended by a number of state ministers, former cricketers and other sports personalities and cultural icons from the state.
Stars from the Bengali film industry, including actors Prosenjit, Soham and actresses Srabonti and June Maliah, upped the glam quotient. A troupe of dhaakis (drummers) and tribal dancers added to the frenzied atmosphere.
The crowd soaked in earthy tunes of Bengali folk rock songs by Bangla band Bhoomi as slogans of "Ab Ki Baar KKR" and renditions of team anthem "Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo" reverberated across the arena.
A horse-mounted police man evicting the mob from the front of Eden Garden during a felicitation programme of IPL winning Kolkata Knight Riders team, in Kolkata on Tuesday.
CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya felicitated each of the players, in addition to team owners Juhi and husband Jay Mehta. He presented the team with gold rings weighing over 11 grams.
This was followed by Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Paurkayastha and celebs handing over mementoes, scarves and trays of Alphonso mangoes to the team.
Apologising to the supporters who could not witness the spectacle, Banerjee announced that in future such an event would be held at the sprawling Brigade Parade Ground - reserved for mega political rallies where lakhs or even millions take part.
Bengal minister brushes aside stampede as 'chhoti baat'
Kolkata: A West Bengal minister tweaked a famous Shah Rukh Khan movie dialogue to dismiss as a "petty matter" the injury to seven people in a stampede outside the Eden Gardens during Tuesday's felicitation to Indian Premier League (IPL) winners Kolkata Knight Riders.
Chaos reigned supreme outside the stadium as thousands of people struggled to get inside, often breaking barricades and giving a harrowing time to the vastly outnumbered police force.
The security personnel resorted to frequent pushing and shoving and even cane charged the crowds to disperse them.
Reacting to the incident, Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim urged the media to focus on the grand spectacle inside rather than the "petty matter" that happened outside.
"Badi-badi events mein chhoti-chhoti baatein hoti rehti hain (in big events, minor things do happen)," Hakim said, tweaking Shah Rukh's dialogue from the movie "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge".
"Our own team KKR has won. Lakhs of people are happy watching this felicitation ceremony, you should focus on the grand spectacle, so what if 10 people fell down," Hakim told media persons.
A TV grab, however, showed one of the stampedes happened after the minister standing outside the stadium instructed police to remove the barricades and let the people into the ground.
Sports Minister Madan Mitra defended the strict police action.
"What can police do if there is a tsunami of people? If police didn't take action, then there could have been a stampede," Mitra said, claiming over two lakh people came for the event.
Incidentally, the stampede occurred a little after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who presided over the ceremony, directed police to allow entry to the spectators waiting outside.
Condemning the police action, the Congress and the BJP demanded a probe into the cane-charging on the crowds.
"All my happiness of KKR becoming champions turned sour after seeing innocent people, including women and children, being battered by police. There is an immediate need to probe the cane-charging by police," Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said.
"We condemn the attitude of police and demand an immediate inquiry into the incident," state BJP president Rahul Sinha said.