Saturday, 17 November 2012

Bal Thackeray dies, life comes to a halt in Maharashtra

Bal Thackeray dies, life comes to a halt in Maharashtra
Clean Media Correspondent

MUMBAI, Nov 17 (CMC) Life virtually came to a halt in several parts of Maharashtra following the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray today. 

Shopkeepers and hoteliers downed shutters immediately after the news of his death. 

There were some stray incidents of stone pelting in some areas in Mumbai and Thane. Taxis and autos were off the roads while local trains and BEST buses were plying in Mumbai though BEST authorities suspended operations in select areas where incidents of stone pelting were reported. 

Officegoers tried to rush back to their homes as the news of Thackeray's death spread. 

The central railway has cancelled the mega block on both Central and Harbour lines in Mumbai on Sunday to help the people to attend the last rites of the departed leader. 

Cabs and autos which remained off the roads today at the airport would also not operate tomorrow as a mark of respect for the departed leader, authorities said. 

Reports coming from many cities including Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and parts of Konkan said that shops and restaurants remained closed there and autos were off the roads after the news of Thackeray's death was received. 

There were stray incidents of pelting of stones on BEST buses at Pantnagar in suburban Ghatkopar, Naupada (Thane), Prateeksha Nagar, Kamothe (Navi Mumbai). The BEST suspended its operations in Mulund, Bhandup, Kandivali, Sion, Shivaji Nagar, Jogeshwari (E) and Kalanagar in Bandra. However, the transport undertaking said that it would operate its bus services tomorrow for the convenience of people who would come to pay last respects to Thackeray. 

20,000 police personnel deployed 

Security was beefed up across Maharashtra, particularly in Mumbai where 20,000 police personnel were deployed, to keep a tight vigil following the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray here today. 

"The entire police force is on an alert in Maharashtra. Lakhs of people are expected to visit Mumbai to take a last glimpse of Thackeray," a senior police official at Maharashtra Police Headquarters said. 

In Mumbai alone, over 20,000 city police, 15 companies of State Reserve Police Force and three contingents of Rapid Action Force have been deployed. 

"The funeral procession will begin tomorrow at 7 AM. We have deployed enough number of police force at Sena Bhavan in Dadar, Matoshree in Bandra and at Shivaji Park where the last respects would be paid," Mumbai Police commissioner Satyapal Singh said. 

"I appeal to people to remain calm and maintain law and order. Citizens should step out of the houses only if it is urgent. There would be traffic restrictions, particularly in Bandra and Dadar areas," Singh added. 

Police have made an appeal to motorists to avoid Western Express Highway as roads connecting Kalanagar area, where Thackeray's residence is located, have been cordoned off. 

The entire city wore a deserted look as shops, hotels, restaurants and other commercial establishments were closed and there was sparse traffic on the streets. 

"We did not ask anybody to keep their shops shut. People are doing it voluntarily," Singh said. 

Appropriate arrangements have been made at the Shivaji Park where VIPs are also expected to reach to pay homage tomorrow, Singh added. 


Personalities across the political spectrum and social sphere today condoled the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. 

"Maharashtra has lost a veteran, experienced leader....He was a politician, cartoonist, editor, organiser as well as art-lover and orator," chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said. 

Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that Thackeray, as cartoonist, arrived on the scene like a storm after the collapse of communists in Mumbai, and took forward the legacy of his reformist father, 'Prabodhankar' Thackeray. 

Shinde said he knew Thackeray for over four decades, and always felt he will survive the current bout of illness. 

"He considered King Shivaji his idol. He worked for the people all his life. We took inspiration from him while governing in Maharashtra," said BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, who served as a PWD minister in the saffron alliance government in the state between 1995-1999. 

State PWD minister Chhangan Bhujbal, a former Sena leader who later switched loyalties to the Congress and then NCP, said Thackeray created history by founding Shiv Sena and taking it to great heights politically. 

"He was fearless while speaking...word 'compromise' never existed in his dictionary," Bhujbal said.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar's daughter and MP Supriya Sule said the Pawar family had very close relations with the Thackerays, though in the political arena the two rivals never spared each other. 

"There were political differences for sure. But Pawar and Thackeray were the best of friends in the personal sphere. Thackeray helped a lot ahead of my marriage," she reminisced. 

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi said Thackeray was a strong patriot and a good cartoonist who carved an identity of his own in Maharashtra. "He had great affection towards me and was a guide for me," Modi said, offering his condolences. 

Singer Asha Bhosale said she had lots of memories and it was a "sad day" for her. Lata Mangeshkar said Maharashtra has been "orphaned" today. 

Tamil superstar Rajnikant described Thackeray as a great personality, and said he has lost a "father figure". 

The 86-year-old cartoonist-turned-politician breathed his last at 3.30pm today at his residence Matoshree in suburban Bandra. 

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