Trains halted at empty platforms, traffic signals turned green to deserted roads and display windows in stores wore shutters as Mumbai chose to stay indoors when news of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s precarious health spread on Thursday morning.
While many stores decided to stay shut on their own amid rumours, in many areas Sainiks went around asking establishments to close down. Sena strongholds such as Dadar, Parel and Lalbaug were on the edge.
Andheri resident Smruti Nair rushed to buy groceries for the next few days just in case everything remains shut. “At 10am, I went to a nearby store to stock up on milk and other groceries, and just a few hours later, the store was shut,” said Nair, a sales executive.
By afternoon, several taxis and autorickshaws were off the roads and petrol pumps were shutting down.
“I couldn’t find a single petrol pump open between Mumbai Central and Mahim, because of which I had to go home when I ran out of fuel in my taxi,” said Dilip Gawde, a taxi driver from Vashi.
Most film shoots were also called off at Film City and other studios as producers anticipated law and order problems, said Naresh Mohnot, from the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association.