Mumbai: Bal Thackeray's final journey from his Bandra home, 'Matoshree', to Shivaji Park is being held amid the presence of lakhs of Shiv Sainiks, who have come from all across Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena chief's body is being carried in a hearse on a flower
bedecked truck. There is three-tier security around it - the Mumbai
Police make up the first layer, the Rapid Action Force (RAF) is the
second tier and Shiv Sena volunteers the third. Sena executive president and Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav, his wife Rashmi and son Aditya are on the same truck. So are Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief and Bal Thackeray's nephew Raj, his wife Sharmila and their children. (In Pictures: Bal Thackeray's final journey)
body is being taken to Mahim Causeway, then to Sena Bhavan, the Shiv
Sena headquarters in Dadar, to the
Meena Tai statue in Dadar and finally to Shivaji Park, where, at a
massive Dussehra rally in 1966, Mr Thackeray had launched the Shiv Sena.
Mr Thackeray's body will be kept at Shivaji Park till 5 pm for people
to pay their respects. His last rites will be performed there at 6 pm; he will also be given full state honours. This is the first time a funeral will be held at Shivaji Park. Full permissions have been taken for that.(Follow our special coverage here)
The procession was supposed to
start at 7 am, but was delayed as roads around Matoshree were filled
with thousands of supporters. Bal Thackeray's body was finally brought
out of his house a little after 9 am in a hearse adorned with flowers. Uddhav broke down just
before the body was loaded onto the truck.
Security has been
beefed up across Maharashtra, particularly in Mumbai, where 48,000
policemen have been deployed to keep vigil.
No autorickshaws and taxis will ply in Mumbai today; the Mumbai
transport service has arranged for extra buses.
Mr Thackeray died on Saturday afternoon after a prolonged illness. He was 86. (Read more)
Matoshree security has been very tight. As news
of Bal Thackeray's death spread, thousands of Shiv Sena workers gathered
within minutes outside the Thackeray home. Till late in the night,
there was a crowd of about 6,000 people there. About 2,000 cops have
been posted there. The police has made an appeal to motorists to avoid
the Western Express Highway as roads connecting the Kalanagar area,
where Mr Thackeray's residence is located, have been cordoned off. (Read: Traffic restrictions in Mumbai)
at every 100 metres along the route of the funeral procession, 25
policemen have been deployed. The police has issued a traffic advisory and
suggested that people stay home, unless absolutely necessary. "I appeal
to people to remain calm and maintain law and order," Mumbai Police
Commissioner Satyapal Singh said.
A senior policeman at the
Maharashtra Police Headquarters here, said, "The entire police force is
on alert in Maharashtra. Lakhs of people are expected to visit Mumbai to
get a last glimpse of Thackeray."
Along the procession route
alone, around 20,000 cops, 15 companies of State Reserve Police Force
and three contingents of the Rapid Action Force have been deployed. The
Police Commissioner said he had cancelled his daughter's wedding
reception party on Sunday since he would be busy. Many Bollywood stars,
important politicians and industrialists are expected to travel across
the city today; they visited Mr Thackeray in great numbers over
Wednesday and Thursday this week signalling that despite his divisive
politics, Mr Thackeray commanded the attention of virtually every camp
in the city. (Read: The legacy of Bal Thackeray)
and autorickshaws will remain off the roads today, their associations
said here. There will be no cab and autorickshaw services from the city
airports - domestic and international - either. BEST has decided to
operate extra buses to facilitate travel for the last rites of the Sena
leader. The Central Railway has also cancelled the megablocks on Central
and Harbour line services tomorrow for the same purpose.
has been calm till now, although most shops and other establishments -
especially in the Sena stronghold of Dadar - began to close down as news
of Mr Thackeray's death came in. There were reports of shop being
closed in Colaba and other Mumbai suburbs too and auto-rickshaw and cab
drivers in many places reportedly refused to travel across the city for
fear of violence or possible vandalism by Shiv Sena workers.
much of the city wore a deserted look on Saturday evening with 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," the police