It was a tense night at Matoshree, both within and without. As the ailing patriarch lay in a critical condition, over 5,000 overwrought Shiv Sainiks went on a rampage outside, damaging cars, BMC trucks and media vehicles.
‘Don’t tarnish Matoshree’s image’
The angst-ridden supporters refused to let vehicles carrying senior Sena leaders Jaywant Parab and Suryakant Mahadik enter the lane leading to Matoshree. They shouted slogans demanding that the leaders walk to the gates. The leaders had no option but to comply.
Fed up with the deafening roar from the crowds, senior Sena leaders tried to chasten the crowds. One of them was heard shouting, “You are supporting such a big leader but have forgotten his teachings. You should remain silent at this time.”
Uddhav Thackeray soon emerged, looking miffed. Addressing the crowds, he instructed the supporters not to do anything that would tarnish Matoshree’s image.
Big B sustains injuries
Bollywood superstars Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan were forced to make an unusual entry into Matoshree. It all started when Sainiks started protesting over the entry of VIPs. The crowds shouted slogans saying that they too deserved to see Balasaheb. In fact, Amitabh was forced to climb over the barricade and jump across, as the police could not open the gates. In the process, he sustained minor injuries. His pristine white kurta also tore during his exertions.
Supporters take it out on cars
Matters took a turn for the worse when a few members of the crowd dismantled a rival party’s banner and tore it up, bang in the middle of WEH. This led to severe chaos at the Kalanagar junction, with traffic coming to a standstill. Soon, the mob made a beeline for the vehicles parked nearby and started damaging them. Drivers of the vehicles were left with no option but to abandon their vehicles and run from the crowds. “It could have led to a tragedy of huge proportions. But thankfully the traffic police reacted quickly to the situation and diverted all vehicular traffic approaching Kalanagar junction from the Kherwadi signal,” said an officer from Kherwadi police station, who was manning the crowd.
Motorists were turned away from the Kherwadi junction and asked to take a U-turn from the signal. “I don’t know where to go now. I had to pick up one of my regular passengers from Kalanagar junction. Since this passenger is depending on me I refused several customers, just for him. I have lost out on an entire trip’s earnings,” said an auto driver stranded at the junction. Many motorists were stuck on the highway till dawn.
Female cop gheraoed
Though the police had blocked all the major roads leading to Matoshree, they were unable to manage the angry crowds. They stood and watched like spectators. A female officer was gheraoed while trying to disperse the crowds blocking the highway. Faced with insubordination, she had no option but to return to her superiors.
Text: Bhupen Patel, Ranjeet Jadhav