Thousands of fans turn up for last glimpse of Puneeth Rajkumar | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Around five lakh fans from across Karnataka, some raising slogans that ‘Raajakumara’ would live in their hearts forever, some wailing and some holding back tears, joined a slew of celebrities and actors from neighbouring states to bid adieu to Puneeth Rajkumar, whose mortal remains were kept at Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.
Thousands of fans had begun trickling into the stadium since Friday evening to catch a final glimpse of the ‘Power Star’ as the final rites were expected to be conducted on Saturday. With the government postponing the funeral to Sunday, many more made it to the stadium to pay their tributes to the 46-year-old actor who passed away after a massive cardiac arrest.
Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said the funeral procession would take place between 5.30am and 6am on Sunday and the general public will not be allowed during the last rites. He urged the actor’s fans and admirers to cooperate with the administration to maintain law and order as they have in the past two days.
Condolences and tributes to Puneeth flooded social media
Puneeth’s maternal uncle and former Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce president, SA Chinne Gowda, who was at Kanteerava Studio overseeing preparations for the final rites, said: “…Even today, people have been pouring in from across the state, from far off districts like Kalaburagi, Raichur, Belagavi and many other places. It has been decided that the final rites will be performed tomorrow (Sunday). I request people to cooperate and maintain peace.”
Puneeth’s elder daughter, Drithi, who is studying in New York, took an AI flight from JFK and landed at Bengaluru at 4.10pm, via Delhi.
Earlier in the day, Puneeth’s brother Raghavendra said the family was waiting for Drithi to arrive and appealed to fans to remain calm. “You have all cooperated and maintained peace so far, we request you to do the same. All fans will be allowed to pay their respects as we’ve pushed the final rites to tomorrow morning,” he said.
Drithi reached the family’s Sadhashivanagar home around 5pm and arrived at the Kanteerava Stadium by 6pm. Joined by her mother Ashwini and sister Vanditha, touched her father’s head one last time and wept, sending a wave of grief through the crowd in the stadium.
Among celebrities and VIPs who called on the family through the day were former Andhra Pradesh CM and thespian NTR’s son Balakrishna, Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi, actors Venkatesh, Junior NTR, Ali, Rana Duggabati, Srikanth and Sharath Kumar.
Kannada stars Arjun Sarja, Divya Spandana (Ramya), Rakshitha, Pooja Gandhi, Sudeep, Yash, Upendra and senior artistes Umashree, B Jayashree and music director Gurukiran also paid their respects. Karnataka governor Thawar Chand Gehlot arrived in the morning to pay tributes.
Police said the throng of fans in the stadium remained all day, while a few hundreds more thronged Kanteerava Studio. Police commissioner Kamal Pant said: “Our officers estimate around 5 lakh people arrived by midday. Many more people kept pouring in even after that. There will be bigger crowds by night and up to morning tomorrow.” Despite the huge numbers, no untoward incident was reported though fans had to brave a brief spell of rain at 4pm.
Online, condolences and tributes to Puneeth flooded social media. A video of a fan (Ajmal Mughal) from Pakistan’s Lahore crooning the actor’s ‘Bombe Heluthaithe’ even went viral.
(With inputs from RB Santosh Kumar, Rajiv Kalkod, Petlee Peter)

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Sagar Biswas

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