Thursday, April 13, 2006

How Bangalore's mobs mourn

Dr Rajkumar is dead and Bangalore is going crazy. Buses are being burnt , vehicles stoned , buildings attacked and cable operators have cut off all channels that (presumably) aren't reporting his death or giving it as much importance. I begged the editor to let me go with the crew to watch the happenings. There was excitement in the news room. I felt however that it was just another piece of ‘sensational’ news for them. Anyhow we rushed to his house and there was a huge crowd there all trying to barge in. The police were lathi charging and Devegowda and the chief minister were just coming in. There was chaos and screaming and the cameramen and reporters were squeezing through the crowd to get what they wanted. Towards Palace grounds where his body was initially supposed to be taken, police cars were being stoned and there were frenzied crowds creating ruckus. There was speculation that it was his sons who initiated all this to just reveal how much power their father still had.
It really was something to see one city quickly shut down and steal away after one man's death. A shop keeper I interviewed on MG road was nearly in tears and he was shutting shop of his own accord and not because of any orders, he said . Some IT companies made sure they had placed a garlanded picture of Rajkumar in some visible place. Cars owners too hastily took print outs of his pictures and pasted them on the windows. Whether this is because of fear or respect is debatable. Glass buildings all around town were attacked. The company driver who just assumes I am bong or North Indian for some reason bitches to me about Tamilians .How this is their chance to be accepted by the Kannadiga community ; by mourning the Kannadiga legend . According to him the Tamilians incredible drinking powers will see them creating the most trouble. I continued of course to grill him to get some perspective on this.

It is sad though. Almost as if his death and the violence are two separate unrelated things. Are these mobs actually just grabbing a chance to create anarchy? Someone says it's their chance to settle scores but somehow it seems an ugly way to mourn the death of someone they idolized.

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