The mortal remains of Hinduvta mascot Bal Thackeray were consigned to flames
as hundreds of thousands of mourners bid him a tearful farewell at the Shivaji
Park, from where he had launched the Shiv Sena 46 years back.
An emotional Uddhav Thackeray, the youngest son of the 86-year-old Shiv Sena
patriarch, lit the funeral pyre a little after 6 pm, to loud roars of "Balasaheb
amar rahe" (long live Balasaheb).
Raj Thackeray, the estranged nephew of Bal Thackeray and MNS chief, stood next
to Uddhav with folded hands near the pyre as they accepted the condolences from
political leaders, captains of industry, film personalities, relatives, friends
and well wishers.
The firebrand Sena supremo, who was critically ill for the past few days,
breathed his last yesterday following a cardiac arrest.
A contingent of Mumbai police gave a 21-gun salute and buglers sounded the last
post in the state funeral, a rare honour for someone who had never held any
In a spontaneous outpouring of grief, a sea of humanity, unprecedented in recent
memory, descended on the streets leading from "Matoshree", Thackeray's Bandra
home, along the 10 km stretch to Shivaji Park, to catch the last glimpse of the
uncrowned king of Mumbai.
The pyre was erected on a platform at the very place from where Thackeray
delivered his first speech to his rabble- rousing supporters after the launch of
Shiv Sena on June 19, 1966.
As several times in life, the Thackeray phenomenon was in evidence once again in
death as he brought Mumbai to a halt with all marketplace, from the swanky malls
to the tiny tea stalls and 'paan-beedi' kiosks, closed and all roads leading to
"Matoshree", Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar and Shivaji Park, where his last rites
Those present included long-time political rival and personal friend Sharad Pawar, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, senior party leader L K
Advani, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Opposition leader
in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, his Madhya
Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chauhan, and Union ministers Praful Patel and
Superstar Amitabh Bachchan, with whom Thackeray shared a long-standing bond,
actors Nana Patekar and Ritiesh Deshmukh, filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar and
Mahesh Manjarekar, industrialists Anil Ambani and Venugopal Dhoot and Zee's
Subhash Chandra reached Shivaji Park hours ahead of the funeral.
Ex-Sena leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who got Thackeray arrested after becoming NCP's
Deputy Chief Minister and home minister in a little known case after a bitter
fallout, and Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam, who also broke away from the saffron
party, were among those present.
In a measure of respect and influence Thackeray commanded over generations of
Maharashtrians, the government allowed his funeral to take place at Shivaji
Park, never a venue for such events, and accorded him a state funeral, the first
public funeral after Bal Gangadhar Tilak's in 1920.
Governor K Sankaranarayanan and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan placed wreathes
on the Sena patriarch's body.
A three-tier security comprising the Mumbai police, the Rapid Action Force and
party volunteers were deployed to make sure that the funeral procession moved
without any untoward incident.
Thackeray's body atop a flower-bedecked truck was taken to Mahim Causeway, then
to Sena Bhavan, the Shiv Sena headquarters in Dadar built by him in 1977, to
Meena Tai statue in Dadar and finally to Shivaji Park.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh cancelled his daughter's wedding
reception tonight as he was busy with security detailing.
"I appeal to people to remain calm and maintain law and order," the Mumbai
Police Commissioner said.
The doctor, who treated the Hinduvta champion for the past five years and was
with him in the last hours, was a Muslim.
Dr.Jalil Parkar, well known Pulmonologist from Lilavati hositapl, was next to
the pyre of the Sena chief who reposed full faith in him.
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