A cursory glance through the sport pages of leading national dailies on Tuesday morning left Mahesh Gawli shocked. The India central defender couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the headline that read 'Mohun Bagan suspends Bhaichung Bhutia for six months'.
“I read it in the newspaper first up. This is really not done,” said Gawli, backing the India skipper to the hilt. “It would have been another thing if it (suspension) was for a month or a week. I am thinking how he will play the full season now. Never expected them (Bagan) to do this to someone like Bhaichung,” Gawli told HT, two days before Goa's Santosh Trophy semi-final clash against Tamil Nadu.
“Let's see what Bhaichung does now,” he said.
Equally shocked was Gawli's Goa and India teammate Climax Lawrence. “It is not fair on Bagan's part. They should have spoken to him before taking such a step,” Lawrence said.
It is well chronicled that the whole episode had started over his participation in a dance reality show a month back, but Lawrence said that “the club knew about his contract with Sony (the channel where the dance show Jhalaak Dikhla Ja was aired) and didn't have any problem with his participation”. “If they had allowed him then, how can they show cause or suspend him now,” Lawrence asked.
“For someone who has given his all for the country all his life, this is a very harsh deal,” Lawrence said. “Do you expect him to stay at Bagan after all this,” Lawrence said.
Eager to have a word with his former club skipper, PC Lalwmpuiya tried calling Bhutia a few times, but couldn't get through. “What happened was bad, it's very bad,” Lalwmpuiya said. “I wanted to talk to him. I just tried his number but it was busy. Somebody just told me that he has gone to Sikkim,” he added.”