The atmosphere outside the Thackeray residence at Kalanagar, Bandra had been tense for the last three days. Despite appeals by the Shiv Sena leadership to their Sainiks to disperse and not gather outside Matoshree, over a thousand Shiv Sainiks had been stationed outside Matoshree with the single hope of seeing their ailing leader rise from ill health and bless them.
However, at 5 pm, Dr Jalil Parkar stepped out of Matoshree and addressed the gathering. His spoke slowly and gathering grasped on to his words. “The honourable Balasaheb Thackeray breathed his last today at around 3.30 pm. We could not revive him.” Dr Parkar has been Thackeray’s physician since 2009.
Wails echoed in the gathering as Sainiks, many in disbelief and shock, burst into tears. Their revered leader had left them.
Some sat down on the concrete road and broke down, a few supporters who were sitting near a wall to shelter themselves from the afternoon sun began banging their wrists on the wall. A group that was close to the barricades aligned near the cross section were seen beating at the grills and screaming in anguish.
Phones began ringing and SMSes were dispatched to friends and relatives. In an hour, 10,000 Shiv Sainiks had assembled outside Matoshree. Slogans, screams, howls were seen from all sections of the crowd that was growing by the second. Streams of Sainiks, on motorbikes, in cars, on trucks, and on foot descended on the Kalanagar junction. This crowd will only increase until only Sainiks are visible in the region.
The Sena leader had touched the hearts of many and was respected and looked upon by millions in Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra.
Several policemen, who have been on guard duty since Wednesday night, could not control their tears either. Many of the constables on duty adhered to the long work schedule and had just stepped away to grab a late lunch. However, as soon as the announcement was made, they were forced to change plans immediately and rushed back to the barricades. It’s going to be a long night ahead, on a hungry stomach for many of the men and women in khakhi.
Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut stepped out of Matoshree and addressed the anguished crowd. Raut appealed to the crowd to disperse and move away from Matoshree. He announced that the Sena leader’s body will be kept at Shivaji Park from 7 am on Sunday for the last darshan. He appealed to the crowd to maintain calm and to vacate the spot. Not many paid heed to the appeal.
The ailing Shiv Sena supreme breathed his last at 3.33 pm. He was 86.