A sea of followers flooded the Kala Nagar junction around midnight as news of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s deteriorating health spread across the city. Over 5,000 people had thronged outside Matoshree and were seen waiting for updates of their leader. The atmosphere was tense and the anticipating crowd was getting agitated as scores of cars carrying VIPs and senior Sena leaders kept speeding past them and heading inside Matoshree.
Amitach Bachchan, and son Abhishek Bachchan were among the first ones to be seen at Matoshree around 1 am. The Bachchans share a longstanding friendship with the Thackerays and had rushed to the ailing leader’s residence. In fact such was the chaos outside Matoshree last night that both Amitabh and Abhishek were injured while trying to enter the Thackeray residence last night. The doctors attending to Bal Thackeray then treated the Bachchans for the injuries and scratches. Amitabh tweeted: “Yes both Abhishek and me were injured with cuts, but are fine and back home ... the doctors at 'Matoshree' attended on us!’
Actor Sanjay Dutt, along with wife Maanayata also rushed to the Thackeray residence last night. Singer Bappi Lahiri was also there to lend support to the ailing leader.
Senior leader Ramdas Kadam was the first one to address the gathered crowd and appealed for calm. He said that doctors were doing their job and were trying to stabilise the senior leader. NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who was once a member of the Shiv Sena, also rushed to Matoshree around midnight.
But with no official statement coming out of Matoshree, the agitated crowd began to get restless. The various media OB vans that were present on the spot became the target of their frustration. A huge mob roughed up the journalists who were reporting from the spot and out of fear for their lives the media OB vans were moved from the spot.
Traffic came to a standstill and the traffic police had to rope in extra personnel to clear the logjam. The Kala Nagar junction connects the Western Expressway to the city and is also an arterial road that leads to both the domestic and international airports. The first priority of the Mumbai police was to clear the western express highway for traffic, as post midnight international passengers headed towards the airport would be stalled in the jam. After nearly an hour, the Western Expressway was cleared up and traffic began to flow smoothly.
Cops roped in, leaves cancelled
Soon after visuals of thousands of Shiv Sainiks thronging Kala Nagar outside the Thackeray residence were flashed on television channels, the Mumbai police sprung into action. As it was a state holiday most police officials were on leave and spending time with their families. However, police headquarters sent out an urgent message cancelling leaves with immediate effect. Police officers were asked to report to their respective police stations and await orders.
Over a 1,000 police officials and a platoon of Rapid Action Force officers were stationed outside Matoshree to control the growing crowd. The police put up barricades on the road leading to Matoshree and also on the road leading towards the commercial sector of Bandra-Kurla complex.