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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray passes away

Mumbai: Bal Thackeray is no more. The Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray passed away on Saturday after protracted illness at his home ‘Matoshree’ in suburban Mumbai.

His demise was announced by his doctor Jaleel Parkar. Confirming Shiv Sena supremo’s death, he said, “Honourable Bal Thackerayji breathed his last at 3.33 pm.”

“Bal Thackeray had gone into cardiac arrest. We tried our best, but could not revive him despite our best efforts (sic),” Parkar further said.

Thousands of Shiv Sainiks had been standing in vigil outside his home in upscale Bandra East area of Mumbai for the last 72 hours as the news got out about Thackeray's failing health.

The supporters who had converged outside ‘Matoshree’ broke into tears on hearing the news. 

Shiv Sena chief’s funeral procession will begin tomorrow at 10 am from ‘Matoshree’. Balasaheb is expected to be cremated between 3-4 pm.

Keeping in mind a possible unrest in Mumbai, state government has placed heavy security across city. Approximately 20,000 policemen are out on the roads of the financial capital.

He is survived by his sons, political heir and Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and filmmaker Jaidev. A widower, Thackeray's wife Meena and his eldest son Bindhumadhav passed away in 1996.

Thackeray was ailing for about two years and was under regular medical treatment at home. In the last week, his health deteriorated sharply.

According to party leaders, a virtual ICU had been recreated at Matoshri with all emergency equipment and medical and para-medical staff on duty round-the-clock.

The passing away of 86-year-old ‘Balasaheb’, as Thackeray Senior was fondly called, has created a void that will be difficult to fill for the Shiv Sena, which has always revolved around him. To party workers he was more like the family patriarch and not just the founder of the Shiv Sena.

As much as he was revered and adored, he was prone to controversies that he kicked up with his provocative, at times vitriolic, statements meant to fire up Marathi nationalism and Hindu hard line politics.

Thackeray had been keeping unwell for some time and had been under the care of a team of doctors from the Leelavati Hospital.

At the Sena's Dussehra rally in Mumbai last week, he addressed party workers via a recorded video message, asking them to support his son Uddhav and grandson Aditya. “I have collapsed physically... I can't walk... I am tired,” he said. Hundreds of policemen and RAF personal have been deployed in the area and elsewhere in the city as a precautionary measure.

Bal Thackeray, a former cartoonist, had founded the Shiv Sena in 1966 as a "sons of the soil" movement. The Shiv Sena later formed government in the state with the BJP from 1995 to 1999.

Glamour world personalities like Amitabh Bachchan with his son Abhishek, Rishi Kapoor and brother Randhir, Salim Khan and son Salman Khan, Manoj Kumar, Madhur Bhandarkar and Bappi Lahiri visited Matoshri to enquire after Thackeray's health during the week.

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