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Mamata honours Knights as Kolkata turns up to cheer

Newly-crowned IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders were today accorded a grand felicitation by the state government at the packed Eden Gardens, but the hour-long programme turned sour when chaos followed scuffles by some frenzied fans with policemen outside the venue leading to injuries to several people.

After the 67,000-capacity stadium filled to the brim, the gates had to be closed denying entry to about 30,000 more who had to remain outside when the programme was on.

Shah Rukh Khan

KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan holding the IPL trophy. Photo: AFP

Children were seen crying after being separated from their parents and torn shoes and jerseys littered the ground as a section of the largely young crowd engaged in scuffles with the police, making a desperate bid to enter the grounds. 

There were also reports of lathicharge, even as the police denied it. No barricade or fence was erected outside the ground. 

"We did not expect such a huge response. The programme was organised at the last minute so it was difficult to make foolproof arrangements," an IPS official posted outside the Eden told PTI.

The entry was made free for all by the government and according to unofficial count about one lakh people turned up to witness the grand celebration.

In the morning, the city turned purple and gold with thousands of people lining up the entire route from Hazra crossing, near the chief minister Mamata Banerjee's Harish Chatterjee Street residence, to Writers' Buildings, a distance of five kms, to witness the victory parade of the team atop a flower-bedecked trailer.

Mamata, Gambhir, Shah Rukh, Juhi

Mamata Banerjee, Gautam Gambhir, Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla lift the trophy. Photo: AFP

Many people were seen taking up vantage points on rooftops and balconies to witness the victory procession.

The team members, who stepped off the team bus at Hazra a little past 11:00 am, arrived at Writers' at 12:20 pm where the chief minister, Railway minister Mukul Roy and cabinet ministers were waiting for them.

People threw bouquets at the players but with the team co-owner Shah Rukh Khan, who landed at the city late last night, missing there was some visible disappointment among the crowd.  

Mamata Banerjee, KKR team players
Mamata Banerjee with the Kolkata Knight Riders' players. Photo: AFP

Many people were seen taking up vantage points on rooftops and balconies to witness the victory procession. 

The team members, who stepped off the team bus at Hazra a little past 11:00 am, arrived at Writers' at 12:20 pm where the chief minister, Railway minister Mukul Roy and cabinet ministers were waiting for them. 

People threw bouquets at the players but with the team co-owner Shah Rukh Khan, who landed at the city late last night, missing there was some visible disappointment among the crowd. It was a show as much by SRK and his team as Mamata Banerjee who, dressed in a purple-bordered white sari, the color of the team's jersey, said, "Bengal is proud. The victory of the Knight Riders is like a victory of the world."

The victory procession in two open buses culminated at the Eden via the Writers' building where chief minister Mamata Banerjee accorded a grand welcome with a felicitation ceremony.

After the 13-minute programme at Writers' Building, the Chief Minister boarded the team bus with the team members and headed for the Eden Gardens, a short distance away.

Shah Rukh might have failed in his attempt to jump from the balcony at the Chepauk after their five-wicket win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings, but the Bollywood star made up for it as he climbed up the giant sight screen with the trophy, waving at the crowd.

"We have been waiting for this day so long. Thank you Didi. Thank You Kolkata. Thank you West Bengal on behalf of every member of the team. Only Kolkata will rule," Shah Rukh said.  

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