The Kalanagar area in Bandra (East), where Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray residence Matoshree is located, was transformed into a fortress on Thursday through the deployment of thousands of police and paramilitary personnel as the news of the patriarch’s deteriorating health resulted in a constant flow of supporters, well-wishers and celebrities throughout the day.
Policemen and commandos from the Rapid Action Force (RPF) and the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) stood guard at the bungalow and kept strict vigil on the area and movement of supporters.
The two entry points to Matoshree — one from Kalanagar junction and the other from MIG sports club — were barricaded and entry was restricted to VIPs. “The RPF and the SRPF have been deployed at both the entry points and they are keeping a close watch on the movement of the supporters. There are around five platoons of each of the forces kept ready for back-up,” said a police official.
The police said that compared to Wednesday night, when an unprecedented number of Sena supporters started gathering near Matoshree as the news of Thackeray’s critical condition spread, outnumbering the police completely, the security situation was relatively better on Thursday.
Supporters allegedly pelted stones at trucks and vehicles on the Western Express Highway at around 1.45am. Two outdoor broadcasting vans belonging to television news channels were also allegedly vandalised.
“First, the zonal policemen were brought in and then numbers were extended to include policemen from all over the city, as well as RAF and SRPF. There is news of police personnel from Thane also being brought in to prevent any untoward incident,” said a senior official.
As the shops around Kalanagar stayed shut, Sena supporters ensured two local hotels remained open for the policemen on round-the-clock duty. Around 25 police vans, 100 to 150 women police personnel were also seen deployed in the area.
Policemen appeared tired by the end of the day and kept approaching senior officials to ask for replacements. An announcement was made late in the evening asking the policemen to be patient as replacements were on their way.
“We have been standing here since Wednesday night despite being on duty through the day,” said a policeman attached to the Kherwadi police.