Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and others pay their last respects to the mortal remains of Kannada film actor Puneeth Rajkumar at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru. (PTI)
Bengaluru: Thousands of grieving fans continue to flock the city's Kanteerava stadium on Saturday to pay their final respects to Kannada film star Puneeth Rajkumar, whose last rites is likely to be performed by this evening.
Considered as the Kannada cinema's reigning star, Puneeth, youngest of the five children of thespian and matinee idol Dr Rajkumar, passed away at the age of 46, after suffering a cardiac arrest on Friday.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Rajkumar, the family has donated Puneeth's eyes.
Mortal remains of the actor, wrapped in the national tri-colour, have been kept at the Kanteerava Stadium, to enable fans and well-wishers to pay homage all day on Saturday. A steady stream of people from across the state have been pouring into the arena since last evening.
Several film and political personalities also paid their respects to the departed soul.
Karnataka Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot accompanied by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and other ministers of the state cabinet, Telugu actor Nandamuri Balakrishna, ace choreographer Prabhu Deva, were among those who paid their respects today.
"The feeling is like losing a son of our house," a tearful elderly woman fan said here.
"Our Appu (as Puneeth is fondly called by fans) might have physically gone, but he will remain with us through his acting and the impact he has left on us because of his good and friendly nature," said a young fan.
The state government has announced that Puneeth's last rites will be conducted with state honours at Dr Rajkumar Punyabhoomi in Kanteerava Studio, next to his father and mother.
According to sources, Puneeth Rajkumar's daughter is abroad and is expected to reach the city by evening, following which last rites will be held, as per the family's wishes.
The mortal remains will be taken in a procession from Kanteerava stadium at about 3 pm to Kanteerava studio, where the last rites will be performed.
The late actor is survived by wife Ashwini Revanth and daughters Drithi and Vanditha.
Speaking to reporters Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the last rites will be performed after Puneeth Rajkumar's daughter arrives from the US, and called on the people to maintain peace and see off their "favourite actor" in a dignified way.
"There is a sea of people descending to pay last respects to Puneeth Rajkumar and the government has made arrangements for it at Kanteerava Stadium. As we want the further process also to go on smoothly, police and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials are at work. Necessary works are on at Kanteerava Studio for last rites, where only family members and dignitaries will be allowed," he said.
Necessary arrangements have been made for quick immigration clearance and others procedures, as soon as Puneeth's daughter reaches Delhi from the US. Bommai further said depending on her arrival, the timing of the final rites will be decided, and route by which the mortal remains will be taken to final resting place is being worked out.
"My only appeal is, yes, Appu's death has caused us a lot of pain, but it is our duty to send him off peacefully and with utmost respect, so everyone should cooperate. Without getting emotional everyone should behave responsibly. People have cooperated in a good way so far, continuing in the same way will be our true tribute to Dr Rajkumar and Appu," he added.
The CM's request for peace comes in the backdrop of the large-scale violence that took place in the city, following the death of Puneeth's father Dr Rajkumar in 2006.