Kolkata: Indian Premier League champions Kolkata Knight Riders were on Tuesday accorded a grand felicitation at a bit over the top event by no less than West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
The celebrations at the Eden Gardens reached a fever pitch, as the City of Joy turned into a sea of purple and gold with the IPL Champions being felicitated at their home ground, and the Trinamool Congress chief equating the IPL win with that in the world cup.
And as the event reached its finale, there were ugly scenes outside the stadium with the police even resorting to lathicharge to control the fans.
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's Harish Chatterjee Street residence, to Writers' Buildings, a distance of five km, to witness the victory parade of the team atop a flower-bedecked trailer.
More than 50,000 people lined up both sides of the road as the players waved on an open bus-top. The victory march began from Hazra in Kolkata on Tuesday with the KKR team led by Gambhir on an open truck with the IPL cup.
The text on the blue and white truck read, "Korechi, Lorechi, Jitechi Re" (We have done it, we have fought it, we have won it).
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 they were welcomed by the Chief Minister, Railway minister Mukul Roy and other Cabinet ministers.
After receiving the warm reception at the Writer’s Building, KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan thanked “Didi and West Bengal on behalf of every member of the team”.
Team skipper Gautam Gambhir also thanked the Chief Minister and the people of Kolkata for the grand welcome given to the IPL champions.
However, the felicitation ceremony at the Eden Gardens turned into a political show as Mamata took the centrestage, relegating the cricketers to the background.
Mamata’s crowd management was on grand display as several thousand frenzied fans lined up Kolkata roads and the Eden Gardens as the KKR players were felicitated by the Chief Minister.
The IPL trophy was seen in the hands of KKR co-owner and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and Mamata more than in the hands of the players, who actually won the cup. Mamata and Shah Rukh turned into event managers at the Eden Gardens, asking the crowd to behave, directing the police officers and also directing the media and press photographers.
Mamata not only felicitated the players but also team owners Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla along with the team officials, and hastily presented them with bouquets and scarves. After that Shah Rukh Khan stormed the stage and said, "Thank you Didi (and) Kolkata for the celebrations".
The KKR players were presented with gifts by the West Bengal government including blue and white embroidered scarves for each player, gold chain with 'Bengal loves you' inscribed on it and cake sandesh which resembled the team logo.
West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan and other Trinamool Congress ministers were also present at the felicitation ceremony at Eden Gardens.
However, the 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.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI)