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Violence erupts in Bangalore; vehicles torched

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Another face of grieving? Furious fans set police vehicles on fire outside the Abhiman Studio, where the cremation took place in Bangalore on Wednesday.
Another face of grieving? Furious fans set police vehicles on fire outside the Abhiman Studio, where the cremation took place in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Raghava M. and M.T. Shivakumar

Police, citizens and commercial establishments were not spared by the frenzied mob in southern parts of the city

BANGALORE: More than a hundred vehicles were damaged while about six of them were burnt, and several buildings were vandalised in Bangalore by unruly mobs following the death of legendary Kannada cine actor Vishnuvardhan here on Wednesday. Several persons, including police personnel were injured in the violence that erupted in southern Bangalore.

Some fans who came to pay their last respect, including an elderly man and a woman, were grievously injured near the National College grounds in Basavangudi. Emotionally-charged mobs, furious at not being able to catch a glimpse of the actor, went berserk.

Incidents of violence were first reported near Jayanagar Hospital after 9 a.m., when the actor’s body was brought from his house in J.P. Nagar to National College grounds. In order to make way for the vehicle in which the actor’s body and his family were travelling, policepersons had to resort to lathi-charge outside the National College premises. Tyres were burnt and BMTC buses were stoned in Sunkadakatte, Rajajinagar and near Ramakrishna Ashram.

Witness

“After the convoy began moving, mobs went berserk and started hurling stones at my building,” said Narasimha, a building owner on D.V.G Road. Around the locality, buildings and vehicles were vandalised, as incensed crowds hurled stones and smashed two-wheelers on the road. Several shops such as Sri Krishna Sweets, Venfield and a McDowell outlet were attacked. Even banks and ATMs were not spared. “They just pelted stones at the police vehicles that were escorting the open van carrying the body,” said A. Vinod, a resident of Poornapragnya Layout.

Fans who got wind of the convoy route tried to block the vehicles at several points. Residents and establishment owners on D.V.G. Road and Gandhibazar, where mob violence appeared to hit a crescendo, said that things went out of control around 4 p.m.

The stone pelting incidents en route Abhiman Studio near Uttarahalli, where the actor was cremated, left even the actor’s wife Bharathi injured. Several policemen, including City Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari and Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) T.G. Krishna Bhat were injured.

People hurled stones at their vehicles as they passed through the tension-gripped areas such as Padmanabhanagar and Uttarahalli. The convoy of vehicles, which carried the body of the actor from National College grounds to the cremation site, had to weave its way through a battery of angry mourners and miscreants who created havoc.

At Basavangudi

Earlier, near the National College grounds where the body was kept for the public to pay respect, police had a hard time controlling the crowds.

They had to resort to lathi-charge and fired several rounds of rubber bullets to streamline the crowds entering the grounds.

The largely emotional affair went out of hand when miscreants tried to fuel panic by throwing petrol bombs near the grounds, following which police used tear gas to restore normality.

A portion of the barricade and the medians near the National College flyover were knocked down.

Visits by high profile politicians — security in tow — and cine stars only added to the commotion.

By late afternoon, violence also spread to some areas in the industrial belt of Peenya where hundreds of small and medium industries are located.

Several industrial units were pelted with stones and were forced to shut down by the mob.

Police

Scores of policemen, who reported on duty early on Wednesday, were injured. “We were forced to resort to lathi-charge after the mob tried to set some police vehicles on fire and threw petrol bombs at the crowd from the flyover,” a police official told The Hindu.

According to the official, 20 platoons from the City Armed Reserve (CAR) and the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) were deployed to maintain law and order. Officials and personnel on leave were recalled to supplement forces.

40 buses damaged

Across the city, miscreants damaged about 40 buses following which the bus services were affected.

The BMTC has withdrawn most of its bus services in Jayanagar, Basavangudi, Uttarahalli, Kengeri and other areas, the BMTC Managing Director Syed Zameer Pasha said, and added that the move was to safeguard the BMTC property.

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