Kolkata

CAA brings East Bengal and Mohun Bagan fans under one banner, first time in 100 years

Mohun Bagan supporters unfurled a banner with “Respect our history, heritage and tradition” message similar to that of East Bengal, at the Salt Lake Stadium, in Kolkata on January 18, 2018.

Mohun Bagan supporters unfurled a banner with “Respect our history, heritage and tradition” message similar to that of East Bengal, at the Salt Lake Stadium, in Kolkata on January 18, 2018.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Supporters of the arch rivals unfurled banners against CAA, NRC

The Internet is taken by storm with two banners placed at Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday during a match between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

The slogans in the banners were directed at the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), but without mentioning them. The coming-together of the supporters of the two clubs, arch rivals since 1920s, is described as “historic”.

“Politics got us together. For the first time in 100 years, we backed each other on an issue, and [that is why] I’m happy even after being defeated,” said Tanmay Haldar, a school teacher and East Bengal fan.

The banner of East Bengal, spread in the gallery by its supporters, read: “We earned this soil with our blood, not with paper.” East Bengal fans are generally those who came from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and are referred to as “Bangals”.

East Bengal supporters with their banner at the Salt Lake Stadium, in Kolkata on January 18, 2018.

East Bengal supporters with their banner at the Salt Lake Stadium, in Kolkata on January 18, 2018.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

However, it may not always be true. Many with roots in West Bengal are also East Bengal supporters, while the Mohun Bagan supporters — called “Ghotis” — are believed to be those who were born and brought up in West Bengal. Thus, they differ on almost everything, from food to football.

However, Mohun Bagan supporters unfurled a banner with a message similar to that of East Bengal. “Respect our history, heritage and tradition,” read the banner in English, while the Bengali one noted, “Ever since the sun set over the fields of Plassey, it is we who have taught you to fight looking the enemy in the eye.” Another banner read, “When we were here, there were no documents.”

While many of the supporters say there is no history of the rivals amplifying similar messages, political parties distanced themselves from it. A Trinamool Congress leader said it was a “spontaneous arrangement” by the supporters of both clubs. But a BJP worker said the ruling TMC “has arranged for the banners”.

Bappa Bose, a social media enthusiast, wrote on Twitter that he is happy that Mohun Bagan has won in the match, “but I salute the united anti-CAA, NRC spirit of both”. Football fans say it is the “rarest of rare” instance of fans appreciating each others’ slogans. But the clubs have refrained from comments.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 1:51:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/caa-brings-east-bengal-and-mohun-bagan-fans-under-one-banner-first-time-in-100-years/article30616925.ece

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