Bal Thackeray’s health critical; heavy security outside Matoshree
Concern over the Sena chief’s health brought Mumbai to an unofficial shut down on Thursday
Shiv Sena followers continued their vigil outside their chief Bal Thackeray’s residence even after reports of his stabilising health emerged. Many of Thackeray’s supporters have been camping outside Matoshree following reports of the 86-year-old politician’s deteriorating health condition on Wednesday night. Mumbai police beefed up security measures outside Matoshree around 5 pm on Thursday, 15 November, as members from the Indian film fraternity turned up to show support to the Thackeray family.
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook were abuzz with latest updates on the Sena chief’s health, along with information on traffic routes that were shut down following reports of the Sena supremo’s failing health. The near-curfew like situation is expected to continue tomorrow, Friday 16 November, with Mumbaikers wondering how they will deal with another day of no business.
Shop vendors in Kalanagar, near Thackeray’s Bandra East home, said on the condition of anonymity that the continued suspense about Thackeray’s health was causing considerable financial loss — “We were told by the police today to pack up around noon and not return until the matter had settled. This season is usually a financial boon for us, but now we don’t know when we can resume work.” Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has also reportedly been monitoring the law and order arrangements in and around Bandra, and other Sena offices.
While no casualties were reported, a major fire devastated the multi-storey Congress building in Colaba. Prabhat Bal, an investment banker, who was at the RBI building at the time of the fire, said that while no one could say for sure whether the two incidents were related, the fire only deepened the sense of foreboding for everyone who was still at work and away from home — “I fear many more such incidents of violence will follow, if Thackeray does pass away. One can only hope that he survives, and that if he doesn’t, his party workers and followers mourn with dignity.”
Devangi Shiv, a student of history at Mithibai College, said the increased police presence in several areas of Mumbai was the main reason why people were expecting the worst. “Maybe the media should stop giving minute-by-minute updates and let the tension dissipate,” she added, before calling her relatives in Vashi to assure them that all was well.
Nishita Jha is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.