Government helped maintain peace in state

If the Shiv Sena gets praise for maintaining peace on Sunday as they bid adieu to their leader, the state government also deserves a fair share of credit.

One of the first calls from Matoshree after Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray's demise on Saturday went to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. By the time the official announcement was made by Thackeray's physician, Dr Jalil Parkar, policemen, who had been on vigil, where immediately deployed across the city to ensure there was no trouble.

"Chavan's track II diplomacy worked for us as he had kept all communication channels with Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray open," said a senior official.

According to the official, the clear communication helped the state administration plan all logistics. The Sena was also happy that their request to conduct the last rites with full state honours and hold the cremation at the Shivaji Park was granted.

Security apart, several other arrangements were made for the convenience of residents. Additional buses were pressed into service and mega blocks on all suburban railways were called off; a detailed traffic advisory was issued and vehicular traffic was barred around Shivaji Park.

"After Wednesday's chaos, we decided to keep police on 24/7 alert. RAF and SRPF companies were deployed and even a helicopter was kept on stand by," said Satej Patil, minister of state for home department.

Critics, however, were apprehensive. "Many in political circles feel Chavan has bent over backwards to appease Sena by accepting the demand to conduct the last rites at the Shivaji Park. This could be followed by the demand for a memorial here, which will get him into trouble in the future," said a senior Congress leader.


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