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Kanteerava Stadium battered

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AFTER-EFFECT: A worker collecting metal bars scattered at Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore on Friday. These bars were used by the crowd against police personnel during the violence that broke out after Rajkumar's body was kept at the stadium. Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.
AFTER-EFFECT: A worker collecting metal bars scattered at Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore on Friday. These bars were used by the crowd against police personnel during the violence that broke out after Rajkumar's body was kept at the stadium. Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

Kalyan Ashok

It is often used for non-sporting purposes

BANGALORE: The decision to keep the body of Kannada thespian Rajkumar at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium to allow fans to pay their last respects to the icon of Kannada cinema, without making proper security arrangements proved to be a disastrous one.

Trail of destruction

Mayhem and rampage that rocked the stadium after the crowd took law into its hands left a trail of destruction at the complex, which is scheduled to host the prestigious Asian Grand Prix athletics meet on May 22. The losses have been estimated at Rs. 2 lakh, and the official estimate is expected to be available by Monday.

Battle zone

The organisers of the Asian Grand Prix were struggling hard to get things in order for the meet as the track was showing wear and tear and the facilities for people as well as athletes were woefully inadequate.

Thursday's riot has only worsened the situation. Chairs were smashed in the gallery, windows of the entrance and adjoining sports hostel broken and pits for high jump and long jump torched. The track took further pounding from the mob, which played hide and seek with the police in the stadium which turned into a battle zone.

"We were lucky to get away with this. I shudder to think what would have happened if we had conceded the demand that Dr. Rajkumar's body be kept in the indoor stadium. It would have been catastrophic," a sports official said.

The organisers of the Asian Grand Prix exuded confidence that they would set everything right before the mega event. But that is a big hope considering the fact that the entire track needs to be relaid and what the officials are likely to end up doing is carrying out some patch work on the track and get it ready for the meet.

Thursday's incident was waiting to happen, given the penchant of the authorities to use the stadium for public and commercial purposes. Sports associations in the State have argued in vain that the stadium should exclusively remain a sports' preserve. But with inadequate funds for the upkeep, it is hard for the authorities to resist commercial propositions or, for that matter, political pressure, to allow the stadium to be used for non-sporting activities.

700 held

Bangalore Staff Reporter writes: Meanwhile, Bangalore police have arrested 700 people and registered 75 cases in connection with the arson and vandalism following the death of Dr. Rajkumar on Wednesday. Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) M.C. Narayanagowda said most of 178 people who were injured have been discharged from hospitals.

Sixty civilians and 118 policemen were injured in the rioting. Three IPS officers and two Assistant Commissioners of Police were also injured.

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