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Rajkumar's demise: Crowd gets unruly; holiday declared Thursday
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April 12, 2006 22:19 IST

Emotions ranged from grief to fury as frenzied fans jostled with each other to catch a last glimpse of their beloved star Rajkumar as his body was brought from hospital. Chants of 'Rajkumar Amaravagali' (long live Rajkumar) rent the air as the fans of Annavaru (elder brother) climbed the fence of the veteran actor's residence and even perched on tree tops just to catch a glimpse of their favourite star.

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With police not allowing anybody inside the residence including mediapersons, anger replaced sorrow as the crowd got unruly. Police had to resort to 'mild' lathicharge to disperse the fans who were told to proceed to Palace Grounds where his body would be kept for the public to pay their last respects, police sources said.

Disappointment writ large on their faces, the fans, young and old, were seen retracing their steps to Palace Grounds amidst shouting of slogans hailing the actor. As the news of the death spread, public transport was badly affected. It was an 'undeclared bandh' in many parts of the city.

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Shops and business establishments downed their shutters while cinema halls stopped screening films. Similar reports came in from other parts of the state. With many buses and autorickshaws going off the roads, people and officegoers were seen trudging down the streets.

The Karnataka Cabinet declared a two-day state mourning from Wednesday and a holiday for government offices, schools and colleges and courts Thursday, as a mark of respect to the Kannada thespian. Briefing reporters after an emergency Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said a black bordered gazette would be brought out to pay homage to Rajkumar who would be given a state funeral. Hailing Rajkumar's contributions to the field of culture, theatre and film and in "boldly" promoting the cause of Kannada, Kumaraswamy said Rajkumar's death had caused a void impossible to fill.

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Calling himself a fan of Rajkumar, Kumaraswamy, himself a film producer, also appealed to fans not to be swayed by emotions and not to do anything that would go contrary to Rajkumar's image. Public or private property should not be
damaged, he said. Kumaraswamy said Rajkumar's body would be kept in state at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore for the public to pay their last respects.

He said he had suggested to the family of Rajkumar that they hold the funeral on the outskirts of Bangalore considering that he was an eminent public personality. He had also told the officials to identify a place for it. He, however, added that the final decision was left to Rajkumar's family.

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