There was an air of despondency near Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's residence Matoshree after his death was announced on Saturday.
Supporters, who had been assured until noon that their leader was recovering, were left speechless and in tears. The crowds swelled after the news spread, as
thousands gathered for the last glimpse of their departed leader, with some turning violent.
"This is not just a loss for the Marathi Manoos but also for Hindutva," said Suresh Gawde, 58, a Bandra resident who has been a part of the Sena since its inception in 1966. "He gave confidence to the Hindus and stood firmly behind us," he said.
Another supporter, Ashok Bagade, 36, called Thackeray a great leader who walked the talk. "Unlike others who just make noise, Thackeray made things happen," Bagade said. "Apart from giving Maharashtrians an identity, he also gave us jobs."
Shortly before the announcement, there was large-scale movement near Thackeray's residence. Policemen who had finished the morning duty were called back to work in the afternoon, while the security apparatus was tightened. Additional police commissioner Vishwas Nagare Patil oversaw the security cover outside Matoshree, turning it into a virtual fortress.
The supporters turned violent after some time, and the first targets were the media personnel stationed outside the residence. However, the policemen did not allow the situation to turn ugly and took corrective action against those pelting stones. The media was huddled into the Mhada compound nearby, and allowed to function from there.
Sena leaders Sanjay Raut, Gajanan Kirtikar and Diwakar Raote rushed to control the cadres and urged them to exercise restraint. "We are aware of your grief, but this is a testing time as Balasaheb also stressed on discipline," said Kirtikar.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.