Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray was cremated with State honours on Sunday
Lakhs congregate at Shivaji Park to attend the funeral, three tier security deployed at venue
On Sunday 18 November, Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray was cremated at the very grounds he had launched his political outfit from. Lakhs of supporters filled up every inch of the massive Shivaji Park ground, where 46 years ago on the festival of Dushehra, Thackeray had launched the party.
The funeral procession led by his son Uddhav and his family began at 9 am from the family’s home Matoshree in Bandra. The flower bedecked truck carried Thackeray saffron draped body and inched its way through thick crowds who had lined the entire route. The crowds congregated at Shivaji Park where a pyre had been built for the veteran politician’s last rites.
Now draped in the National Flag and Thackeray was given a gun salute as a part of the State funneral.
Guided by priests, the traditional funeral rituals were conducted by Uddhav Thackeray as the rest of the family stood by. They were joined by lakhs of Shiv Sena workers and scored of Mumbai celebrities including actor Amitabh Bachchan and industrialists Anil Ambani. Senior politicians from various parties also paid their final tributes to the Shiv Sena supremo at the funeral.
Television news channels live-telecast the funeral that was held amidst a three-tier security ring that was put in place as the massive crowds had been anticipated.
According to news reports the Shiv Sena had sought permission to perform Thackeray’s funeral rites at the park. He had last addressed his followers via a video message on Dushehra as he was too frail to attend the function in person. He had appealed to his followers to continue their loyalty to the party and to his son the Uddhav Thackeray, and grandson Aditya.
Bal Thackeray dies at 86, Mumbai put on alert
The Shiv Sena chief passed away this afternoon; he was suffering from lung and pancreatic ailments
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray passed away after prolonged illness on Saturday 17 November at 3.33 PM at his Mumbai residence Matoshree. The Sena supremo was 86 years old and was suffering lung and pancreatic ailments. As soon as Thackeray’s death was announced, the streets of Mumbai (especially around Shiv Sena offices) began to empty out, with shops and offices pulling down shutters. Huge crowds could be seen at railway stations as people began to rush home, most of them stocking up on supplies for what they assume will be a weekend spent indoors.
As the news of the political heavyweight’s demise spread, political figures, ministers across the country sent out condolences for the Thackeray family. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said that she felt ‘pained’ to have heard of the great loss. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi also expressed his sorrow on learning about Thackeray’s death and mourned the passing away of his ‘guiding force’. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also issued a statement offering condolences to the Thackeray family.
The late Sena chief started his party in 1966 to safeguard the interests of Maharashtrians. Later on Thackeray identified with the idea of Hindutva and tied up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Before joining politics, Thackeray was a political cartoonist with The Free Press Journal in Mumbai. He launched Saamna, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, in 1989 where he wrote pointed and often controversial pieces targeting his political opponents. Thackeray was known for his charisma and might, and often feared and revered by locals.
Thackeray was a leader capable of bringing Mumbai to its knees if he so desired. That life in the buzzing financial capital would slow down in the event of his demise was inevitable. Bhushan Sharma, 58, a milk vendor in Bandra East spoke to Tehelka as he supervised the locking up of his store, saying that while the Shiv Sainiks had betrayed no signs of violence thus far — the crowd of over 3-5 lakhs expected by Sunday morning for Thackeray’s funeral was enough reason to worry. While the law and order situation has remained peaceful since the announcement, thanks to Mumbai Police’s stellar security arrangements as of the past week, it remains to be seen how the 60,000 strong security personnel deal with the mourning throngs that show up at Matoshree for Thackeray’s funeral procession on Sunday morning. The city has also been put on alert for the next 24 hours.