Final farewell: Thousands of fans from across Karnataka travel to Bengaluru
Disbelief and grief were the predominant emotions among the thousands of fans who gathered at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday to pay their last respects to actor Puneeth Rajkumar. Groups of friends and families, including parents with children in tow, travelled from as far as Kalaburagi, Raichur, Yadgir, Ballari, and other parts of northern Karnataka by trains and buses on Friday itself to make the overnight trip. To meet the demand, additional buses were operated on Friday night.
A group of fans was seen hoisting Kannada flag and carrying photos of the actor, while another played popular songs from his films on portable sound system that they had brought with them. Gurulinga, a fan from Kalaburagi, said, “I travelled by Udyan train with my friends. Like us, many people had boarded the train to see Puneeth for the last time.”
Chethan, a fan from Raichur, said he was unable to come to terms with the star’s sudden demise.
“I first saw the news on social media, and I could not believe it initially. At about 9 p.m. on Friday, we left from Raichur to Bengaluru by bus. After waiting for two hours, we somehow managed to get inside the stadium.”
An official of the Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation said they operated more than 120 buses from various points such as Bidar, Yadgir, and Kalaburagi. “There was high demand for travel to Bengaluru on Friday night.” Some of the fans’ associations reportedly pooled in money to help pay for their transport.
At the stadium itself, people waited in queues for hours on end before being allowed to enter. Bhimaraju, who had come all the way from Yadgir, was unable to enter the stadium. “Around hundred fans of Puneet have come from Haveri. We reached the stadium around 8 a.m., but some of us couldn’t get inside because of the crowd. Someone tore my shirt, and I lost my footwear.” When he started suffocating as he was wedged between masses of people, he decided to return home.
Nanditha, a resident of Nelamangala who had come with her family members, said, “I have been a fan of Puneeth since my college days. He is a rare talent. Other than acting he was also a good singer and dancer. I cannot believe that he is no more.”
Lakshmi, another fan, said, “Puneet is loved by everyone, that’s why thousands of people have turned up. After waiting for over two hours, I managed to get inside.”