A Disappointing Sendoff For ‘Annavru’ Rajkumar

For a region that prides itself on its relatively calmer social fabric and superior inter-religious harmony, last week’s meaningless violence in the wake of Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar’s death came as a huge disappointment. One could perhaps understand the frustration if the thespian’s demise had not been natural (as happened when he was kidnapped by forest brigand Veerappan a few years ago). This however being a natural death, everyone was taken by surprise.

I traveled by two-wheeler from Koramangala Ist Block to Sadashivnagar on Thursday morning, the day after Rajkumar’s death and the subsequent initial phase of violence. I must admit, I was lucky to complete the journey sans any hitches. I passed by the M Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium circle on M G Road just half an hour prior to perhaps the worst violence witnessed in Bangalore in recent times. At that moment, I felt a bit uncomfortable seeing so many people around, all heading towards Kanteerava Indoor Stadium where ‘Annavru‘ Rajkumar’s body was kept for the people to pay their last respects. Luckily, I managed to pass without any problems.

IMAGE: Supposed Rajkumar fans turn violent in the aftermath of the legend’s death in Bangalore

Reaching Sadashivnagar, however, I was shocked to see the scale of destruction that had been wreaked on the otherwise quiet, upscale locality the day before. Right from Windsor Manor Bridge to Bashyam Circle, every structure along Sankey Road that had glass on it had been victimized. At Giria’s (a local consumer appliance store chain), the glass enclosing the front display was all but gone. Washing machines and other appliances on display lay invitingly in the open, free for anyone to pick up and tow away. On the other side of the road, a Hyundai showroom was smashed from top to bottom. It has a giant glass façade that extends almost till the third floor. The miscreants managed to scathe that and the windows above! Further down, Centurion Bank, Microsoft Scientia Research, the local Bharat Petroleum bunk, Café Coffee Day, etc. all met with the same fate.

What’s the use of building world-class buildings if we don’t have the respect and attitude to preserve public and private property? If I read correctly, five civilians and one policeman lost their lives in this meaningless and misguided violence that also brought shame to Bangalore and made Rajkumar fans a laughing stock in front of the rest of the country.

Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy suggested not so subtly that the opposition, starved for issues to prick the government with, was behind this latest trail of violence. I wouldn’t like to comment on whether the allegations bear merit or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Shiv Sena sponsored goons regularly resort to such browbeating in Mumbai (breaking the Zee TV studio, St. Valentine’s Day protests, etc.). Narendra Modi’s government remained a mute spectator as Hindu fascist mobs went on the rampage, raping and murdering, in Gujarat. And who can forget the (in)famous incident in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly where our lawmakers turned into law-breakers, tearing microphones and other objects from desks and hurling them at other legislators (including women).

When will a country as great as ours get the politicians it really deserves? Or does a group of youngsters have to come along and do what DJ and his group of friends did in Rang De Basanti?

The only hope I see here for now is the new political party formed by IITians, Lok Paritran. Hopefully they will herald the dawn of a new political system in India – one that strives for modernity and development for all, and not for dividing the country by caste, creed and religion and enforcing quotas and corruption.

Watch this space…


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