Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray died Saturday afternoon at his residence here, his doctor announced. He was 86
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who was ailing for some time, passed away on Saturday afternoon.
Thackeray, who was in a critical condition for the last several days and kept an entire state on tenterhooks, died of cardiac arrest at 3.30 p.m. Saturday, his doctor Jalil Parkar, who had been attending to Thackeray during his ailment announced.
At around 4.45 pm Parkar came out of Matoshree, Thackeray's residence in Bandra, and announced that the Shiv Sena supremo was no more.
Meanwhile, the press at Matoshree was hurled inside the adjacent MHADA office building fearing violence.
Thackeray's body will be kept at Shivaji Park to enable millions of party activists and Mumbaikars to pay their last respects to the leader from 7 a.m. Sunday, party MP Sanjay Raut told reporters.
Raut also appealed to all Shiv Sainiks to "maintain calm and remain peaceful" in the wake of the tragedy which has befallen them.
Around 25 lakh people from across Maharashtra are expected to reach Mumbai for Balasaheb's funeral, which is expected to happen Sunday evening at a crematorium beside Shivaji Park, a party official said.
Though there was no panic or uncivil reaction to the demise in Mumbai, shops and establishments, restaurants and tea stalls shut down, cinemas cancelled shows and functions were called off or postponed.
Meanwhile autorickshaws and taxis will not ply in Mumbai on Sunday; the Mumbai transport service has arranged for extra buses.
The state police machinery which is on their toes since a last few days is all prepared to handle the situation. The funeral being on Sunday may come as a bit relief for the police as its an off day for business and corporate related activities.
We are all prepared to handle the situation with the police force deployment to along with State Reserve Police Force personnel to maintain order and assist people, Minister of State for Home Satej alias Bunty Patil, told MiD DAY.
All the necessary precautions are being taken to maintain law and order, he said. Meanwhile, the police is gearing up to handle the mammoth crowd that is expected to rush to Matoshree and later at Shivaji Park, where the mortal remains of the leader who ruled million hearts will be kept.
The police as well as the civic administration have begun their preparations by erecting barricades, arrangements for drinking water, temporary toilets, traffic diversions at Shivaji Park, sources said.
Thousands of them had been standing in vigil outside his home in upscale Bandra East area of Mumbai for the last 72 hours as the news got out about Thackeray's failing health.
The man who for decades lorded over one of the largest states in the country is survived by his sons, political heir and Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and filmmaker Jaidev. A widower, Thackeray's wife Meena and his eldest son Bindhumadhav passed away in 1996.
Thackeray was ailing for about two years and was under regular medical treatment at home. In the last week, his health deteriorated sharply.
According to party leaders, a virtual ICU had been recreated at Matoshri with all emergency equipment and medical and para-medical staff on duty round-the-clock.
His son Uddhav Thackeray was fielding scores of visitors, politicians and showbiz celebrities as this city remained on the edge for the last few days with heavy police deployment outside his residence and in trouble spots around the city.
Glamour world personalities like Amitabh Bachchan with his son Abhishek, Rishi Kapoor and brother Randhir, Salim Khan and son Salman Khan, Manoj Kumar, Madhur Bhandarkar and Bappi Lahiri visited Matoshri to enquire after Thackeray's health during the week.
Following his death, condolences poured in from President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, BJP leaders L.K. Advani, BJP president Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and others, cutting across political lines.
(With inputs from agencies)