Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was laid to rest with full state honours today at Shivaji Park, where he launched the Shiv Sena 46 years ago at a massive rally on Dussehra. As part of the state funeral for him Mumbai Police conducted a 21-gun salute. Thackeray’s son and Sena executive president Uddhav and his cousin Raj performed last rites.
The mortal remains of Bal Thackeray, a Hindutva mascot and flagbearer of Marathi pride, were consigned to flames as lakhs of mourners joined the Shiv Sena founder's grieving family to bid him a tearful farewell, with the city observing a virtual shutdown.
In a spontaneous outpouring of grief, a sea of humanity, unprecedented in recent memory, descended on the streets leading from "Matoshree", Thackeray's Bandra home, to Shivaji Park, to catch the last glimpse of the uncrowned king of Mumbai.
As several times in life, the Thackeray phenomenon was in evidence once again in death as he brought Mumbai to a halt with all marketplace, from the swanky malls to the tiny tea stalls and 'paan-beedi' kiosks, closed and all roads leading to "Matoshree", Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar and Shivaji Park, where his last rites were performed.
Loud roars of "Parat ya parat ya Balasaheb parat ya (Come back, come back, Balasaheb come back), Kon ala re, kon ala Shiv Senecha wagh ala (Who has come, who has come, Shiv Sena's tiger has come)" and "Balasaheb amar rahe" (long live Balasaheb) rent the air as an emotional Uddhav, the youngest son of the departed leader and Sena's executive president, lit the pyre.
Thackeray died on Saturday afternoon, after a prolonged illness at the age of 86.A funeral procession left his Bandra home 'Matoshree' with Thackeray's body being carried in a hearse on a flower bedecked truck at 9.32 am. It took more than four hours to reach the “Maha Yatra” to the Shiv Sena Bhavan situated in the north Central. Later, Thackeray’s body was brought to Shivaji Park where family members, political and social leaders and representatives of business and film industry paid homage to Thackeray.
Among those who have reached Shivaji Park inlcuded Maharashtra Governor K Shankarnarayanan, state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, Union Minister Sharad Pawar, Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule, BJP President Nitin Gadkari, senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, BJP leader Prakash Javdekar, BJP Mahila Morcha Chief Smriti Irani, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussein, Congress leader Rajeev Shukla, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani, BJP MP Maneka Gandhi, NCP leader Chaggan Bhujbal, film maker Madhur Bhandarkar.