Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rajkumar's death

The news of Kannada thespian Rajkumar's death flashed on TV channels around 2.30 pm. My immediate thoughts were how the grief would spill on to the streets. It would be a hectic day for me in office. And, not leaving anything to chance, I left home around 3.30 pm.

I immediately got a bus which was virutally empty. But as the bus neared the city centre it began to get packed. Inside the bus passengers were keeping themselves updated on the developing situation and engaged in animated discussion as to how it will play out. The general consensus was that there wouldn't be any violence as the death was a natural one. The Brigade Road paid parking bay was unusually empty and shops had downed shutters. Streets were getting crowded with people rushing home, and the tension was palpable. In the midst of it all I was struck by an irony: While everyone was rushing home, I was rushing to the office!

In the office, reports of violence started trickling in. What started the violence was the lack of any clarity over where the body would be kept for public viewing. Sadly, the body was taken to and moved out of three places before finally keeping it at the Kanteerava Stadium. The public who had gathered at various places lost cool, felt cheated and went on the rampage.

Knowing Rajkumar's iconic standing among legions of admirers and sundry fans, some effort should have been made -- at least after the tragic moment if not before -- to decide on the place for keeping the body for the public to pay homage. And, going by precedents, the crowd frenzy should have been expected. It's sad the body was taken around the city in circles with no one having an idea where it should be kept.

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