BANGALORE: Vishnuvardhan, charismatic icon of Kannada cinema, died of cardiac arrest in the early hours on Wednesday in Mysore.
He complained of chest pain around 2.15 a.m. and died on way to the hospital. The 59-year old actor had been ill for some time, and more recently was being treated for a leg injury he sustained while shooting a film.
The death of this much-loved and amiable actor with his trademark bandana triggered violence by grieving fans in Bangalore that did not spare even his wife Bharathi who was injured by a stone on her way to the cremation here. The news of the death was received with shock and disbelief in the city.
Sporadic violence early morning grew in intensity when his body was moved to the National College grounds in Basavanagudi at around 11.30 a.m. Most of the violence occurred in Basavanagudi between noon and 6 p.m., and later on in Uttarahalli, where the body was cremated at 8 pm.
Frenzied fans, unable to pay their respects to their hero because of the surging crowds, went berserk and began pelting stones and even petrol bombs at vehicles and business establishments. The police caned and tear-gassed the mob near the National College flyover.
A section of the mob tried to torch police vehicles even as houses in the area were damaged in stone-pelting. Some 30 people were injured.
As about 40 buses were damaged by fans across the city, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation withdrew its service in Bangalore South.
Autorickshaws went off the road and most shops, hotels, cinemas and malls in the city downed their shutters.
The police estimated the turnout at the National College grounds at around four lakh. When they eventually were able to bring the situation under a measure of control by afternoon, trouble erupted again once the funeral procession started its journey at 4.30 p.m. from Basavanagudi to the Abhiman Studio in Uttarahalli. Crowds that followed the open vehicle carrying the coffin turned violent, attacking vehicles in the procession.
Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari’s car came under attack, injuring him and DCP (South) Krishna Bhat.
Later the cremation was held with state honours in the presence of his close family, friends from the industry, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, and other leaders.