Annavaru’s passing away, and subsequent events.
[Every few days or so the Blogosphere gets something to comment on – something that everyone will have an opinion on. This time it was the passing of away of Dr Raj Kumar, or more correctly, Annavaru, and the subsequent events. This post aims to put a perspective to those events.]
Before I go any further – Bangalore/Karnataka/India is not heaven – if you’re from outside the place and expect it not to have ANY amount of crime/criminals, sorry to disappoint you, but we do have them here. There’s been a lot of talk of the violence in Bangalore. Yes there was violence, no it was not justified, and do keep in mind these were extra-ordinary circumstances – and that the administration didn’t live up to its part of the bargain.
Annavaru isnt, wasnt, just an actor, an activist for Kannada, or a rich but hugely humble, unpretentious man. He was all that and more. He essentially was – and is – that single person all of Karnataka loves, honours and deifies – the embodiment of everything Kannada.
He is not comparable to any other actor across India – or any other contemporary across India. The crowds you saw on TV were too few. And that was because most of his fans stayed home and watched the funeral on TV, and also because of the maladministration. (The samadhi reportedly gets 50000 footfalls everday- after nearly a week of his passing away)
The kind of support Annavaru had, and still has, is across the board – across all divides, in this state. The kind of image he embodied, especially given his non-entry into politics, (Sonia Gandhi, please note – THAT was a sacrifice) is something not enjoyed by ANY of his contemporaries(and please, please lets not compare Amitabh to him). That kind of support was probably enjoyed by only one other person in Modern India. That man incidentally embodied similar qualities – asked, fought for peace, for pride of his people. Bapu. He, probably, contributed more than Annavaru did, but support for Annavaru was not much lesser.
And Bapu’s death, for the uninformed – also brought on terrible riots, and arson – and what was the first thing the government told the people, after announcing his assassination? That the killing wasnt by a Muslim.
Would anyone dare associate those who performed the arson as Bapu’s followers, or Gandhians? Of course not. Because it simply wasnt true.
The arson and crime that followed Annavaru’s was because of the anti-social elements, and because the administration did not do its homework/law-enforcement. 8 people are dead – 6 from police firing. One person was standing on the 3rd floor at the time of his death in the police firing – he wasnt killed by Annavaru’s fans, it was bullets from the police that did it.
The arson and rioting itself was due to the present Karnataka administration’s lack of foresight, planning, and abdicating its duties. All through the day, the only thing you heard from the Chief Minister was
a) He lacked enough Police forces
b) The violence will stop by evening.
There were 2 distinct phases to the violence – the first being on the day of the Annavaru passing away. The second being on the day of the funeral – both were distinct from each other.
The first was pure mayhem – and it mostly occured in areas familiar to long-time Bangaloreans as hotspots for such activity whether RajajiNagar, Majestic – to name just two. It would not take too much intelligence to send extra forces to that region, would it?
The second occured again, largely because the police and the administration did not bother to implement crowd-conrtol mechanisms. Heck, the CM did not even know how much time would be allowed for people to pay respects to the Mannina Maga – 2 days became 4 hours.
They effectively denied most of the public from paying their last respects to a man who called his fans “Abhimani Devarugalu” of ‘God-like/Godly fans’ (In economic terms they cut off supply when there was huge demand). That was, perhaps, the last straw to folks who had waited for hours in the sun, swallowed being treated like cattle, only to pay their last respects. Cattle might have a lot of patience, but these were men, werent they? It needs little to incite trouble in such situations. And the handling by the police just did it, did it not?