Mohun Bagan fans face violence at 'Remove ATK' demonstration, protest spreads to university

MOHUN BAGAN FANS' protests with the demand to 'remove ATK' from their football team's name has spread beyond the stadium, into universities and other fields of the culture.

On Saturday night, Mariners de Xtreme unveiled a large tifo reiterating the fans' demand. It mocked the in-fighting among Mohun Bagan officials, depicting a cartoon where Debashish Dutta (current General Secretary of Mohun Bagan) and Srinjoy Basu (former General Secretary) are arguing with each other over who would remove the ATK prefix from Mohun Bagan's football team, not knowing that their bickering is actually allowing KGSPL, the football team's majority shareholders, to keep the prefix.

After unveiling the tifo, the fans allege that they got into altercations with a group of people who were insulting Mohun Bagan. Speaking to TFG, one of the fans who attended the protest said,

"They were not Mohun Bagan fans. They had all arrived in a lorry. It looked as if they were brought in from outside Kolkata to fill up the stands. They did not like it when we unveiled the banner and chanted 'Remove ATK.' It seems like the administration is using every dirty trick to supress our voices. It got so bad that police arrived in the gallery with sticks."

Most major Mohun Bagan fan clubs based in Kolkata is boycotting the team's matches. Other independent fan clubs are attending matches only to register their protests, as Maharashtra based fan club Mumbai Pune Mariners did in two away matches.

Meanwhile, a group of Mohun Bagan fans who are students of the prestigious Presidency University, also organised a demonstration where they hung a large 'Remove ATK' banner from the main building of the campus. Speaking to TFG, a representative of the group said,

"Presidency University Mariners Fan Club celebrated its fifth anniversary on the 25th of November. Our university has always been the torchbearer when the winds of revolution have blown, and we could not think of a better way to celebrate than to reach out and spread the message that every Mariner wants to shout off every building's roof. Thus, the message of 'REMOVE ATK' adorns the premises of our historic university in College Street. We have taken this step to highlight the feelings of lakhs of Mariners, who do not want the 133-year legacy of Mohun Bagan to be associated with a dead franchise - ATK. Other I-League clubs like Bengaluru FC and East Bengal have shown the ability to play in ISL without merging with other entities. We feel that the merger is unnecessary. Through the 'REMOVE ATK' movement, we also demand that Mohun Bagan make a comeback into CFL, which ATKMB have stopped playing in the last few seasons. A prefix that can match the legacy of Mohun Bagan would be a welcome change. The 'REMOVE ATK' banner is only a little flame, but that is all it takes to turn into a forest fire. Through this move, we can reach the admins in our club tent, and they can feel the emotions of every Mohun Bagan fan out there."

This is not the first time the 'Remove ATK' movement has left the sports sphere and made its presence felt in other cultural avenues. Recently, Bollywood actress Konkona Sensharma drew sharp criticism from Mariners for her Instagram post which attributed the historic 1911 IFA Shield victory to 'ATK Mohun Bagan.' After many Mohun Bagan fans spoke up in the comments, she corrected the statement. This came on the heels of a radio jockey changing the lyrics of the Mohun Bagan anthem 'Amader Surjo Maroon' to include the 'ATK' prefix. The RJ deleted the post after receiving backlash from Mohun Bagan fans over it.

While there were strong rumours that KGSPL was going to remove the 'ATK' prefix this summer and use the brand name 'Mohun Bagan Super Giants' for the team, it did not materialse. This led to the relationship and trust between KGSPL, Mohun Bagan officials and the fan clubs quickly deteriorating.

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