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Posted on Nov 18, 01:30PM | IBNS
Mumbai has turned into a fortress as the body of former Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray is being taken to Shivaji Park for his supporters to pay their last respects.
Wrapped in saffron, the body was brought out of Matoshree, the late leader's Mumbai residence. It was soon wrapped in a tricolour.
Police were seen struggling to keep the thousands of supporters gathered outside Matoshree at bay as the body was being carried to the open truck which will take it to Shivaji Park.
The body is scheduled to be kept at the park till 5pm and the funeral is expected to take place at 6pm.
Reports said 50,000 police personnel have been deployed in Mumbai to maintain law and order.
Thackeray died on Saturday after battling ailments for days, ending an era in Maharashtra and national politics in course of which many opposed to his functioning struggling to come to terms with his brand of firebrand nationalism. He was 86.
Police advised people to return and stay in their homes even as the Shiv Sena asked the public and its supporters to maintain calm.
Shops downed shutters and roads emptied out, as news of the death spread while many people were stranded on roads across the Maharashtra capital as the taxis and auto rickshaws also went off road.
More than 20 lakh people are expected to attend the funeral on Sunday.
Film screenings in city theatres and sports matches were cancelled on Saturday as soon as the news of Sena chief's demise spread.
As the end came at around 3-30 pm and the news was announced in the evening by his doctors, lakhs of his followers, many of whom called him the King of Hindu Hearts, broke down and grieved for the man who founded Shiv Sena in 1966 to enforce the rights of Marathi people in Mumbai and who left an indelible impact on national political architecture with plain speaking and espousal of national pride.