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Big funeral for India’s nationalist politician Bal Thackeray

November 20, 2012

Mumbai: Hundreds of thousands of supporters have filled the streets of Mumbai for the funeral of Bal Thackeray, a Hindu leader linked to waves of mob violence against Muslims and migrant workers in India.

Last rites are being carried out at the Shivaji Park, where Thackeray’s body will be cremated.

Nearly 20,000 policemen were on hand on?Sunday because of the violent history of the group.

Mourners appeared calm and marched orderly as Thackeray’s funeral procession made its way to a park where the body will be kept for his supporters to pay their last respects before it is cremated later Sunday.

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Thackeray, an 86-year-old powerful, rabble-rousing orator for Shiv Sena – which means Shiva’s Army – died on Saturday following a cardio-respiratory arrest. He had been ill for several weeks.?

Thackeray’s death triggered a virtual shutdown of the city.

As his cortege progressed through Mumbai, police advised residents to travel only in emergencies.

Taxis went off the roads, and shopkeepers and restaurants stayed shut since news of his death spread across the city.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the funeral route to catch a final glimpse of Thackeray, still wearing his trademark sunglasses as his body, covered in the Indian flag, was driven slowly through the crowd.

Authorities placed a massive police force on the streets in a bid to avert trouble following the death of the politician whose party has a reputation for intimidation and unrest.


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