K.V. Subramanya and Raghava M.

Violent fans lathi-charged; petrol outlet set on fire

Many vehicles damaged OB vans of private television channels attacked BMTC bus commuters greatly inconvenienced Cinemas suspended shows

BANGALORE: Kannada thespian Rajkumar's death triggered violence and disrupted normal life in Bangalore on Wednesday.

The police lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to lathi-charge to disperse violent fans who indulged in stone throwing and set vehicles on fire in Sadashivanagar, Bellary Road, Magadi Road and at Kanteerava Indoor Stadium. A petrol outlet was torched at Hudson Circle.

Thousands of people, who had thronged the Palace Grounds to have a last glimpse of the actor, turned violent as "proper arrangements" were not made there. The angry fans raised slogans against Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and demanded that the body be taken to the Vidhana Soudha.

The frenzied fans threw stones at vehicles that were stranded on Bellary Road and also set on fire over a dozen vehicles, including 10 belonging to the police. They also attacked OB vans of private television channels and chased away the cameramen and media photographers at the Palace Grounds. The police brought the situation under control by resorting to lathi charge and lobbing tear gas shells.

Violent incidents were also witnessed near Poornaprajna School grounds in Sadashivanagar after Dr. Rajkumar's body was taken there from Palace Grounds. After the fans complained of inadequate arrangements even at Poornaprajna School grounds and they turned violent, the police used force to quell the mob.

Similar incidents were also reported from the Kanteerva Indoor Stadium as thousands people thronged the stadium after it was decided that Dr. Rajkumar's body will be taken there from Poornaprajna School grounds. The mob ransacked the stadium, forcing the police to lob tear gas shells.

Earlier, as the news of Dr. Rajkumar's death spread, hundreds of his fans took to streets in several areas and started throwing stones and bottles at buildings and passing vehicles. They also stoned the cinemas screening non-Kannada movies.

Hundreds of vehicles, mainly BMTC buses, were damaged in the stone-throwing incidents in Magadi Road, Kamakshipalya, Sriramapuram, K.P. Agrahara, Rajajinagar, Subramanyanagar, Koramangala, Byatarayanapura, Vijayanagar, Mysore Road and Kengeri. Two BMTC buses were set on fire at Gowdanapalya in Padmanabhanagar and on Magadi Road.

At several places, youths placed tyres on the roads and set them on fire, blocking the traffic for hours. Vehicular movement was thrown out of gear in several areas. The BMTC bus commuters were left in the lurch as the drivers abandoned the vehicles in the trouble-prone areas. The public transport system was paralysed and most of the autorickshaws were off road. Towards evening most of the roads were deserted.

The unruly incidents were a sad reminder of similar scenes that followed Dr. Rajkumar's abduction by the forest brigand Veerappan in July 2000.

The grief-struck fans garlanded Dr. Rajkumar's portraits and hoisted the Kannada flags at half-mast at prominent junctions in the city.

They formed groups and went around in their areas forcing the shopkeepers and businessmen to close shops. All the cinemas in the city remained closed from afternoon. To prevent mobs from attacking them, drivers of several vehicles had pasted

Dr. Rajkumar's posters on the windscreens of their vehicles. The police have heightened the security in the city and intensified the patrolling. Security will remain tight till the funeral, expected to take place Thursday evening.