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.
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 said.
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 5 kms,to witness the victory parade of the team atop a flower-bedecked trailer.
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.
“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,” SRK,who is also the brand ambassador of West Bengal,said at the reception in front of the Writers’ Buildings amidst thunderous cheers from hundreds.
Captain Gautam Gambhir said,”Thank you Didi. It is a fantastic support that we have received from the people of Kolkata and Bengal.”
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.”
Banerjee was seen either giving directions to those present on the grounds and or shepherding the KKR team members and Bollywood stars.
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,the Chief Minister boarded the team bus with the team members and headed for the Eden Gardens,a short distance away.
The Bollywood badshah in his straw hat made his presence felt at the Eden celebrations dancing and even trying to coax the chief minister to do the same.
Mamata asked the governor M K Narayanan to lead the team inside the ground with skipper Gautam Gambhir in front with the trophy.
The team members went on the dias as the crowd cheered lustily. Popular Bangla bands Bhoomi and Chandrabindoo played some of their popular number as all the members including owners Shah Rukh,Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta danced.
The programme officially began with National anthem after which the team members were given gold chains and mememtos and were before being garlanded with blue-coloured scarfs amid showers of confetti and loud cheer from thousands of people.
After the programme was over,the KKR team and others present made a victory lap of the stadium to the delirious cheers by the crowd.
Shah Rukh might have failed in his attempt to jump from the balcony at the Chepauk after their five-wicket win over two time 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.
They team members also cut a cake with inscriptions of team mantra (Korbo,Lorbo,Jeetbo) now aptly made into past tense: ‘Korechi,Lorechi,Jeetechi,signifying “we have done it.”
With a host of Tollywood artists in company,Mamata,Governor M K Narayanan and the team members clapped to the tunes of the late Salil Chowdhury-penned popular Bengali song,’Dhitang Dhitang Bole…’ which was a choice by the chief minister herself.
Big banners of ‘We embrace our valiant Knights. KKR 2012 IPL champions,” welcomed the Knight Riders outside the stadium.
The team slogan ‘Korbo,Lorbo,Jeetbo’ changed its tense as it now became ‘Korechi,Lorechi,Jeetechi’,something even team co-owner Shah Rukh Khan tried to utter after
arriving at the airport late last night.
‘Korechi,Lorechi,Jeetechi’ (We have done it) adorned the walls of the stadium with Shah Rukh chartbusters reverberating inside the stadium.
The programme at the Eden Gardens began at 10.30am with singers belting out Shah Rukh chartbusters,from ‘Dard-e-Disco’ to ‘Main Hoon Don’ as the crowd danced to the numbers,waving KKR flags.
The singers also changed the lyrics of the Bollywood star’s numbers a bit as ‘Chak De! India’ became ‘Chak De! Kolkata’ with the crowd enjoying every bit of it.
Despite the hot and humid weather,the crowd waited patiently for the players to enter the stadium.