Sound planning, special forces and a stroke of good fortune ensured that Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s funeral went off smoothly despite an overwhelming turnout of five lakh people at Shivaji Park, according to police officials.
Planning began as far back as five weeks ago when reports of Thackeray’s health deteriorating first started coming in, said senior IPS officials of the Mumbai police. The police had anticipated that lakhs of people would start pouring in after news of his ill-health spread.
The police had five days to call in an additional force of 15 companies of the state reserve police force (SRPF) and three companies of the Rapid Action Force, while the director general of police sent in a 2,000-strong force to the city.
While one could deconstruct the security effort merely in numbers, what made it more Herculean was the initiative taken by every officer to work relentlessly for days in a row.
All leave was cancelled until further notice, including that of the commissioner of police, Mumbai, Satyapal Singh.
Singh’s daughter, Rucha, got married on Sunday. Singh had to cancel his daughter’s reception at Goregaon, which was to take place in the evening.
On Sunday, Singh visited Matoshree in the morning and reviewed the security.
He attended his daughter’s wedding for a brief while before coming back to supervise the bandobast and stayed till the end, according to sources.
“It was a difficult decision as such occasions come once in a lifetime. But for me, duty comes first and it would have been wrong on my part to be at a private function when my force was on duty,” said Singh, adding that the bandobast was successful because of detailed and meticulous planning.
Singh said he had made it very clear to the police force that if anything went wrong, action would be taken.
Many IPS officials, who have been in service for more than 25 years, had never witnessed anything like this before. The police had deployed senior IPS officials at strategic locations to ensure quick decision-making.
Singh and joint commissioner of police, law and order, Sadanand Date, were overseeing the entire bandobast.
JCP Hemant Nagrale, additional commissioners of police (addl CP) Vishwas Nangre-Patil and Rajvardhan Sinha, were in the procession from Bandra to Dadar.
JCP Himanshu Roy and Addl CP Pravin Salunkhe were at Sena Bhavan and Shivaji Park, while Addl CP Niket Kaushik was in the control room.