Amid chaos and violence that claimed three lives, including two in police firing, the mortal remains of Kannada thespian Rajkumar were laid to rest at Kanteerava studio complex Thursday evening.
Tens of thousands of frenzied fans broke through the police barricades and stormed the funeral venue as the last rites were performed by his sons with full state honours.
Hell broke lose just before the funeral procession entered the complex, as emotionally-charged fans defied the police and stormed the venue after attacking them with stones. Shivarajkumar, Raghavendra Rajkumar and Puneeth Rajkumar performed the last rites, with Rajkumar's wife Parvathamma joining in. One person was killed in police firing near Siddalingaiah circle and another near the funeral venue, police said.
Violence marred the mourning rite from the morning as distraught fans fought pitched battles with the police in and around the Kanteerava stadium, where the body of Rajkumar was kept in a coffin for the public to pay homage. At least two buses were torched near the stadium and scores of private vehicles damaged elsewhere in the mob fury that took a turn for the worse. Police repeatedly burst teargas shells and resorted to a lathi charge as surging crowds in their thousands tried to force their way to attend the funeral. As the situation appeared to be spinning out of control, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who came to the venue, had to return for security reasons.
The violence continued even after the last rites were performed. The 10-kilometre long funeral procession took more than four hours to reach the Kanteerava studios, as thousands lined up along the streets and paid their last respects to Rajkumar. Repeated appeals were made by family members of Rajkumar for calm at the funeral venue, but it fell on deaf ears. Hours before the arrival of the funeral procession, fans grew angry about not being allowed to attend the funeral. Their sorrow gave way to fury.
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa escaped with minor injuries when his car was stoned as it entered the funeral venue with party General Secretary Ananthkumar, who was unhurt. Since last night, tens of thousands of mourners filed past the mortal remains of Rajkumar.
Special: Farewell, Dr Rajkumar