When Mr Ambarish did a better job than Mr Bidari

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: I love Karnataka.

I love Kannada, I love Kannadigas.

I love Bangalore, I love Mysore.

I loved Raj Kumar, I loved Vishnuvardhan.

But I have to say this on the morning after: I don’t love Bangalore Police.

Like the rest of the film-loving humanity, I sat glued watching Vishnuvardhan’s funeral procession and cremation on television yesterday. And, after seeing the clumsy, chaotic and disgraceful send-off to a graceful and gentle man, it gives me no joy to report that Karnataka Police advertised their incompetence, ineptitude and inefficiency to the world.

Yet again.

We had seen it before, of course, after Raj Kumar’s death: When the so-called top cops of Bangalore, the fat cats—Ajay Kumar Singh, Bipin Gopalakrishna et al—were captured on camera looking like circus buffoons who had been run over by a Reva.

Four years down the line, if you thought the new lot would have learnt their lesson from that experience, well, think again.

From what I could gather from the TV images, the scene at Abhiman Studio when Vishnuvardhan’s mortal remains arrived, was no better than what it is when the early-morning vegetable trucks arrive at Kalasipalya.

Only, this time, there was a different set of fat cats presiding over the sad spectacle: chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa and his flunkeys, and Bangalore police commissioner, Shankar Bidari.

Make no mistake, the police had to counter surging crowds and all the attendant troubles from early morning. And all through the funeral procession, they had to counter the stonethrowing, the vandalism, the arson, etc.

The inability of the police to counter the mobs in these circumstances, I could somehow understand. Because there was no way the police could have sanitised the entire route. Because excessive use of force can result in even worse damage.

As S.V. Rajendra Singh Babu’, the director of such fine films as Bandhana and Muttina Haara, said on TV: “Civilised behaviour somehow seems to be far beyond us on occasions like these,” and there was little the police could do to retrieve it.

What I could not and cannot understand for the life of me is how poorly prepared, how utterly unprepared the police and other authorities were at the cremation ground, where they had all the time in the world before the body arrived.

Especially after the Raj Kumar experience.

# There was no clearly demarcated area for the family to conduct the final rites or watch the proceedigs.

# There were no barricades to segregate different sections of the crowd—VIPs, Press, general spectators—from each other.

# There were clearly not enough policemen to keep nuisance makers and gatecrashers at bay.

# And there was absolutely no leadership at the very top as the situation developed.

Obviously, crowd management is not as easy as sitting in front of a computer and banging a few words in anger. But to see the CM and the top cops making a show of “personally inspecting” the funeral preparations and then to see such a mockery in the end was a shame.

“So what, no one died,” you might say.

Well, yes, no one died but that wasn’t because of the police.

No one died because Vishnuvardhan’s great friend, Ambarish, showed what a truly great friend he was by picking up the microphone and driving some sense into the skulls of frenzied fans.

As for our police, they were too busy sucking up to the VIPs to bother with Bharati Vishnuvardhan or her daughters, or Vishnuvardhan’s close friends and relatives.

Or, they were just content to watch the stars like awestruck spectators, like they do at one-day international matches at the KSCA.

Shame, I say.

If pictures of the widow and family having to fight their way through crowds doesn’t make you angry, if pictures of ‘Rockline’ Venkatesh and Shivaram having to shoulder bystanders to pour ghee on the funeral pyre doesn’t make you angry, I would say we deserve the kind of police we get.

Maybe, organising star funerals is not the raison d’etre of the police. Maybe they shouldn’t be judged by how smoothly a funeral procession goes. Then again, if Karnataka Police can’t handle a funeral procession properly, I can well understand why Veerappan was so far beyond their reach.

And for so long.

Photograph: ‘Rockline’ Venkatesh (second from left) staves off bystanders while the chief minister’s “parliamentary secretary”, A.Ramadas, stations himself strategically for the cameras, as Bharati Vishnuvardhan bids a final goodbye to her departed husband (Karnataka Photo News)

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27 Responses to “When Mr Ambarish did a better job than Mr Bidari”

  1. Andy Says:

    Agree 100% that Ambarish displayed uncommon leadership to drive some sense into the minds of milling fans.

    Another thing i noticed was the purohits who had gathered to chant mantras. One of them was busy on his mobile while two others were smiling and seem to be enjoy a banter ! The main fellow was dutily carrying mikes of the TV channels.

    Publicity and insensitivity seemed to over ride sanctity and solemnity of the occasion…truly tragic.

  2. Innocent Says:

    I totally agree. The police force was making mockery of itself. It is no exaggeration if they are called buffoons. The police was band was playing “Sare jahan se accha hindustan hamara” during the funeral. That tells their quality. I don’t know either whether Jana Gana Mana is played during funeral, that too with gaps!

  3. RaviKirana Says:

    Couldn’t agree more. The buffoonery was there for all to see and nincompoops all from the purohits to the police to the politicians leeched on. Shame on you people ! This is not what Vishnu would have wanted. These hooligans are no fans of this great soul, they are just plain old bastards out to pursue their agenda even in times like this.

  4. ERR Says:

    It is not true! In Chennai they are far more emotional and it was difficult to control crowds when Annadurai and MGR died.

    As long as emotion plays a major part, as in South, fans do get hysterical when they are prevented from coming close to their idol. The mischief-mongers and rowdy elements in such crowds misuse the situation and destory public property.

    One solution is to make it a totally private ceremony which sometimes is impossible when it is the funeral of a celebrity. Then the protocals, visits of other dignitaies etc take over making next to impossible to control infuriated mobs.

    World over there is no solution to this, especially in countries like ours where peolple get hysterical and lakhs of such people cannot be controlled even if you have thousands of policemen. I wonder whether There is really a solution to this, without resorting to firing etc..

  5. Vishala Manassu Says:

    I saw a ardent smile at Shankar Bidari’s face on the occasion of his son’s grand marriage which coincided with that of NRN’s daughter’s wedding. I really don’t know the reason.

    Incompetency of Karnataka Police
    1.Bangalore police: A pregnant and misled innocent girl barges to marriage hall to demand justice. Bangalore Police says it wasn’t their area right in front of media camera. Bidari questions reportes he couldn’t have arrested the groom.
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Anand-arrested-Priyanka-continues-protest/articleshow/5233434.cms
    She is still looking for justice with DNA test.

    2. Raghupathi Bhat of Udupi:
    http://www.thehindu.com/2008/06/16/stories/2008061657550100.htm
    Days after she left police were intelligent to trace her dead body. Still no one knows if it’s suicide or murder. With Dinakaran and Co it can be put as anything.

    3. I need not reiterate Veerappan story. The forces are prominently responsible for the legend’s loss of health due to abduction.

    Except for a vigil around Vidhana Soudha neither they have the strength to form a independent force (Kannadigas still do not have a regiment of his own while their neighbours have Madras group and a Maratha infantry) nor have the courage to extend a weak police force still waiting for some corrupt IAS bureaucrat or Chidu to grant aids.

    No one is safe in Karnataka. It’s just that people just have developed hopelessness that no one demands for safety.

  6. nilesh Says:

    Is there no annual fitness test for these dumhas, saw one SI hiding behind
    a PC to escape a stone.

    All they are fit for is to carry buckets.

  7. Anand Says:

    Saw an amazing visual in today’s hindu and I can’t find it on the their website. A cameraman was in tears after having his camera broken. That visual is one the most moving visuals that I have seen.

  8. Harkol Says:

    A simple protocol to be established in case of any person of public importance dies could save us the blushes. The rules should be framed thus:

    1. Ideally the body shouldn’t be publicly displayed. Only people who are related or friends and well wishers should be allowed to visit and pay respects to the body.

    2. If the body should be kept for Public to pay last respects, then it should be done at a place that’s far away from the city. People who care enough should travel there for the event. Ideally this place should be close to the cremation place so there need not be a huge procession.

    3. A public memorial could be held after the funeral within the city, where public at large, can collectively pay their respects.

    4. Police should be having a pre-defined system and protocol to provide security to the house and places where crowd may gather. The message should go out clearly as to what the arrangements are and what will and won’t be permitted. Scope for confusion should be minimal.

    5. People who were caught on camera rioting, throwing stone and other mob related violence should be severely punished under a seperate law that the cetral govt. should pass. We have had enough of mobocracy in this country. All senas and drunken louts should be put behind bars for long period for violating public peace. There should be no loopholes in this law and it should be treated on par with Terrorist violence. A person who resorts to arson is no less harmful to society than a terrorist. Just imagine, these fringe elements bring down an entire city just like terrorists can, why treat them any differently?

    6. The family of the deceased should have final say in the matters of funeral. If they wish to have a public funeral, then they should be bound by the rules set for such a funeral. They can however choose a private funeral, silently away from the crowds.

  9. ERR Says:

    Anand: This link gives the picture of what you have described so vividly.
    http://www.hindu.com/2009/12/31/stories/2009123161920300.htm

  10. mysore peshva Says:

    excellent writing, arvind.

  11. T.Shetty Says:

    I always wondered why the collective IQ of Indians is soo low. (As an individual we are very smart). Why do we act like animals – throwing stones, setting vehicles on fire for no reason?

    Justifying these irregular behaviour in the name of ‘emotion’ is lame. Police and our administration have failed once again as usual in handling the situation. As there is no consequence, this will continue to repeat.

  12. Shekhar Angadi Says:

    I totally agree with the Mr. Aravind.
    It was very horrible to see in TV, the Cops were dragging out the public who came to offer tribute to Dr. Vishnu. They do not have a little courtesy to allow people to see their Hero atleast for few seconds. I observed their one hand busy attending mobile phone and other hand pushing the people continuously. Waiting for hours together, to have last DARSHANA was wasted.

    Have you observed the obesity of these officers ? They are not doing any exercise.

  13. Dr Kiran Says:

    Why blame the police When we can`t control our own actions?
    When police try to control some anti social elements involved in burning, looting, glass breaking, we term it as atrocity! – even Human Rights (!) guys cry foul…(Remember the lathi charge/ arrest of farmers? Farmers wanted to set fire to the DC office, which was prevented by police, now the police force is made to “drop all charges”)…so the message to law abiding, tax paying citizens is very clear: there is some section in the society, which can go scot free with any crime & and go on burning buses, public property at the drop of a green shawl!

    When the society has a rotten mindset, no amount of policing would help! Moreover, we Indians always want a scapegoat – in this case the Police force. Ever gave a thought, why Police should be involved in handling purely a private affair?

  14. Uday Shetty Says:

    Why blame Police all the time? It is the people who are un-educated and un-cultural. I’m sure most of people are from Congress and JD(S) adda who just want to topple BJP govt in the state someway or the other in the name of law and order ! And media people will put ghee to these kudure pataki news and make it international headlines… Need of the hour is educate people..educate people..educate people…

  15. Rama Says:

    Emotional..my foot. These hooligans should be dealt with appropriately.

  16. sachita Says:

    I cant imagine any human being who would want to vandalize and loot while trying to grieve anyone’s death. this cant be about vishnuvardhan’s death or his fans grieving.

    it is obv. about getting a chance to loot and let the inner devil out!

  17. Jagirdar Says:

    Could it be ‘political’ hooliganism sponsored by opposition? That does not exonerate the inept police in any case.

  18. AC Says:

    After looking at the footages on TV, and recalling the incidents that happened during Dr. Raj’s funeral, my mind goes back to the time when shankar nag died in a road accident. I was too young, (mostly early middle school years), but still, I do not recall my school being closed, or any sort of a mob resorting to goonda-ism. All I can recall is the emotional tribute paid by the film actors. Perhaps, my memory fails me.

    If when there was no goonda-ism by any mob or the so called ‘fans’ when an actor who had a cult following especially among auto drivers died an un-natural death, I just wonder, are we as a society in Bengaluru, degrading?

    As a random aside, I saw HDK’s irresponsible statement (on TV9 Channel) when he had come to have a last glimpse of vishnu in NCB grounds. There also, he was trying to make a political statement, with his minions crooning “BJP gey dhikkara” :( Sucks big time :(

  19. kavitha Says:

    The hooliganism prepetrated both during Rajkumar’s funeral and Vishnuvardhan’s funeral were handiwork of Congi’s. The then CM HDK went on record to blame DeKayShe for the vandalism. But now I guess it would be both Dekayshe and kumaranna’s joint effort to foment trouble during Visnhu’s funeral. It is very easy to blame the fan following after creating trouble.

  20. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Let the hordes have their fun. Besides marriages and funerals, when is the time to party for them? They dont have the internet to pass their time.

  21. Vaz Says:

    You know aravind, on that unfortunate day of Vishnuvardhan’s death I was traveling early morning to Kollegal on some work. My friend Kange, who was travelling with me broke the news. It was about 7 am when we had already left Bangalore & both of us drove in unusual silence. Obviously the news had saddened us & no other topic came up. On the way to Kollegal I came across several hamlets & villages and in atleast 4 or 5 cases maybe more, I came across groups of villagers who had congregated on the roadside corner & were paying obeisance to the departed soul with garlanded photographs. They were neither unruly nor made any commotion or disrupted the traffic. If villagers can show such exemplified behavior, what goes wrong in the city? In terms of education & cultured behavior we dont rate the villagers highly but they can teach a thing or two to ‘City’zens in these matters

  22. Dr. Sree Reddy Says:

    Vishnuvardhan passed away!
    When?

  23. Dr. Sree Reddy Says:

    I cant believe he passed away!!

  24. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Doctor swalpa chloroform jasti ayithu antha kanisutthe!

  25. Faiq Says:

    Hindu carried this story about the plight of policemen in Bangalore http://beta.thehindu.com/news/cities/Bangalore/article75912.ece

  26. Dr. Sree Reddy Says:

    @Doddi Buddi
    Is that comment meant for me? houda
    If so,
    I still cant believe that he is dead after reading all those news reports.
    I think he was not old to die.

  27. shishir Says:

    yes doctor….i agree with u ….itz really shocking news….

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