Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray died in Mumbai at 3:33pm on Saturday. He was 86. (Bal Thackeray: Life in pics)
His immediate family including son and successor Uddhav, nephew Raj Thackeray and the top leadership of the Shiv Sena were with him at his Bandra residence, Matoshree, in his last moments. (Foreign media on Bal Thackeray) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Uddhav Thackeray to express his condolences and has urged people to maintain calm and sobriety. (Read: PM condoles Thackeray's death) | (Bal Thackeray dies: Who said what)
Massive crowds of Shiv Sena supporters had gathered outside the Thackeray residence within minutes of the announcement, prompting calls of calm and maintaining peace from several Sena leaders. A large contingent of policemen has been deployed to keep the crowds under control.
So far Mumbai is calm, though shops, restaurants and other establishments shut down in several areas earlier in the day, including the Sena stronghold of Dadar as also in Colaba. There were reports of auto-rickshaws and cabs refusing to ply in some areas due to fear of violence. Taxis will be off the roads today.
Thousands of personnel from the Mumbai Police have also been deployed across the city, since there is apprehension of some violence. Earlier, Sena leader Rahul Narvekar had appealed for calm to all party supporters. Uddhav Thackeray too had told Shiv Sainiks that "no damage should come to the name of Matoshree".
The death was announced at about 4:30 pm in a brief statement by doctors from Lilavati Hospital who had been treating him. "He had suffered a cardiac arrest. We could not revive him despite our best efforts. He breathed his last at around 3:30 PM," Dr Jalil Parkar, who treated the Sena chief, told reporters after emerging from the Thackeray residence.
Mr Thackeray's body will be taken in a procession today to Shiv Sena Bhavan, the party headquarters situated at Shivaji Park, where it will be kept in state for prominent leaders and party workers to pay their last respects. His body will later be moved to Shivaji Park for public viewing from 10 am to 5 pm today. The Sena supremo used to address massive rallies at Shivaji Park every year. Top BJP leaders including LK Advani and Narendra Modi will be in Mumbai today to pay last respects. The Sena chief will be cremated at Shivaji Park at 6 pm. Around 20,000 cops will be deployed for his funeral. (Read)
Mr Thackeray is survived by sons Jaidev and Uddhav, who is the executive president of the Shiv Sena, which Mr Thackeray founded in 1966.
Hundreds of Shiv Sena supporters who had gathered outside Mr Thackeray's home broke down and tried to console each other.
Mr Thackeray had been unwell since July this year when he was admitted to Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital for breathlessness and constipation. He was released after a week in hospital, and was being nursed at his Bandra residence, Matoshree. The Sena chief was under constant medical supervision, with a team of doctors stationed at his home.
Mr Thackeray's health had dipped to very critical on Monday, but he made a recovery of sorts. Thousands of Shiv Sainiks had gathered outside Matoshree along with media crews. On Wednesday night at 2 am, Mr Thackeray's son Uddhav and grandson Aditya told party workers, "All efforts are on. Please pray."
Hundreds of policemen and paramilitary Rapid Action Force personnel had been called in on Wednesday night, with barricades to restrict movement around the area. Party workers began gathering at the Thackeray residence as news spread that the Shiv Sena chief's condition had deteriorated. Sources said top police officials of the city had been informed of Mr Thackeray's death in advance to give them time to make adequate security arrangements before a public announcement was made.