We are back in Bangalore today after a long, but reasonably comfortable, 36-hour train ride.
We heard last afternoon on the train that Dr. Raj Kumar had died in Bangalore. Expecting trouble we asked family for a pick-up at
the railway station. En route we drove through an uneasily
quiet city, stirring tentatively and watchfully to a day on which most
commercial activity will stop. There were no buses on the
roads and very few auto-rickshaws at 8am. We passed
three burned-out shells of vehicles near Century Club in Cubbon
Park - a bus, a state government registered white ambassador
and an Indica. We saw red & yellow flags and posters,
printouts of Dr. Raj on several vehicles - mostly taxis - perhaps hoping
to pre-empt trouble from "mourning" mobs. In Koramangala we
were passed by a motorcycle procession flying the red & yellow.
We also noticed several flags flying at half mast at the street corner
flagpoles that are so common all across Bangalore. Wordless black
banners were strung across
The city will remain shut, there will be
some stone throwing and tyre burning, perhaps, and we will lose some
city buses and public vehicles today and in the next couple of days in
Bangalore. Tamil Nadu buses will not run all the way into city
center. The local cable operators have blanked out all Tamil TV
channels. There may even be some tragic loss of life.
What purpose does "law-enforcement" serve in our city? The
police will shut down the bars at 11pm and will
fail to file FIRs in cases of genuine need. They will work hand in
glove with local thugs and persecute and harass the innocent.
The traffic police will also continue to mismanage traffic in this choking,
crumbling city. But they will do nothing to prevent this
"spontaneous outpouring of grief". How many cities in the world are brought
to their knees by this kind of mobsterism on a regular basis ?
And how many, in particular, that may imagine themselves to
be globally important centers of business?
Dr. Raj was the most adored popular icon
of the state - and he did immensely much by way of bringing to
the big screen the lives and aspirations of many Kannadigas. He was, by all accounts, a great actor and
a fine human being. But we will insist on doing his memory
profound disservice by remaining silent and condoning the
shameful misbehavior and inhumanity of those who purport to be
Read Prakash Belawadi's touching portrait of Raj Kumar