Friday, August 07, 2009

Gangtok Boys battered on soccer field

The students, who were beaten up, at the Sadar police station on Wednesday and (below) MD Sadam who was punched on the nose.

Gangtok, Aug. 6: A friendly football match between SSB jawans and students of a local school yesterday turned into a free-for-all between the players and supporters of the paramilitary team, leaving at least seven boys with bruises and bloodied nose.

The SSB posted in the state were playing the quarter-final match against the students of Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School on the grounds of West Point to mark the host institution’s golden jubilee celebrations.

According to those watching the match, all was well till the second half when the SSB was awarded a free-kick that yielded a goal taking the score to 3-1 in favour of the jawans.

“The players of our school protested as one of our students was injured and was still lying on the ground when the referee blew the whistle for the free-kick. There was an argument, but the jawans were adamant and began shoving and pushing around our team members. At this, supporters of both sides began fighting,” said a witness.

B.D. Chhetri, a teacher of the Tashi Namgyal school, was also not spared. “I ran into the field to pacify the two sides but I was also given a beating and the jawans alleged that I had incited the students,” Chhetri said.

Seven students were treated for their injuries at Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial Hospital. They are Kasam Sherpa, Sonam Tseten, M.D. Sadam, Aditya Chhetri, Tseten Lepcha, Sonam Palden and Paras Baraily. Except for Tseten who is a Class IX student, all others are from Class X.

The injured teacher and the students alleged that following the refereeing dispute, SSB jawans in the gallery cheering their team had rushed down and mercilessly beat them up. “Those who were supposed to be our protectors, hammered us with their fists and kicked us with their heavy boots and lathis even when we were fleeing. Some of the injured ran away home bleeding,” a student said.

Cops from the Sadar police station soon arrived and brought the situation under control. “We have registered a case against unknown persons for causing the violence and an investigation is on,” said Tshering Sherpa, the officer-in-charge of the police station.

The principal of West Point, the host school, M. Subba, said the organising committee of the football tournament would be meeting later today to decide on the fate of the match.

In a media statement today, the office of the adjutant of 24 Battalion of the SSB stationed in Gangtok refuted the charges and alleged that the students were the ones to attack first. “When the SSB took the lead the students had been misbehaving both in and outside the field (sic). They threw stones and attacked the SSB players with poles uprooted from shelter created for the players on the edge of the ground, some of the jawans were injured and treated at the hospital,” the statement read.