The scene outside Matoshree - A first-person account
MiD DAY reporter Ranjeet Jadhav gives you a first-person account of what was happening outside Matoshree, the Thackeray bungalow, hours before the news of Balasaheb's death was announced.
At around 2:30 pm today, I arrived at Kalanagar where Thackeray family's bungalow Matoshree is located. The atmosphere was thick with tension and the security in the area surrounding the bungalow was tight. A number of Shiv sainiks were seen praying for the recovery of their leader.
At 3:45 pm, a group of Sena leaders including Anil Desai and Gajanan Kirtikar stepped outside the bungalow premises. It appeared as though they were taking stock of the situation outside. They did not interact with anyone and went back with a tense look on their faces.
At exactly 3:58 pm, Raj Thackeray, along with his wife, and MLA Nitin Sardesai arrived at Matoshree. They were followed by a convoy of two other vehicles.
As I was standing very close to the barricades placed to control the crowd, I could clearly see the tension on the faces of Raj and those who were accompanying him.
His hurried entry in Matoshree caused a flutter among people standing outside. They were getting a sense that something was very serious.
What happened next only added to the tension. A number of cops, a Rapid Action Force team and a truck full of barricades reached Kalanagar. The police cordon was growing stronger.
Additional Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nangre Patil reached the spot immediately along with other officials and the area was completely cordoned off.
Extra barricades were being placed so as to avoid any untoward incident. It was almost as if the worst had come true.
At around 4:50 pm, doctors who were treating Balasaheb, along with Sena leaders Sanjay Raut and Anil Desai, proceeded to talk to the media.
Dr Jalil Parkar then announced that the ailing Shiv Sena supremo breathed his last at 3:33 pm today following a cardiac arrest.
As soon as Dr Parkar's announcement concluded, murmurs among the crowd were replaced by an all-pervasive silence. When sainiks, stationed outside Matoshree, learnt of their leader's demise, tears were seen rolling down their cheeks.
Looking at media persons and cameramen taking footage of the same, many sainiks got angry and tried to crash through the barricades, but were unable to, given the heavy security.
The police then shifted the media crew to the neighbouring MHADA building. Sainiks, however, continued shouting slogans against the media.
Sensing that the situation may get out of control, Sena leaders Ramdas Kadam and Diwakar Raote appealed to the crowds to stay calm and follow what Balasaheb had taught them.
"Today is the saddest day in the life of every sainik, as Balasaheb who was like a father figure to us has passed away. I know what pain you all must be going through, but at the same time I would like to convey a message Uddhavji has sent to all of you. Uddhavji has said that all sainiks should follow the discipline taught to us by Balasaheb," Raote said.
He added, "It is a request to all sainiks that they should see to it that no inconvenience is caused to people. Don't stop any vehicle and create a law and order problem, as it will only cause inconvenience to sainiks coming to Mumbai from across Maharashtra to pay their last respects to Balasaheb. Uddhavji has also instructed that no Shiv sainik should misbehave with mediapersons."
After the announcement, sainiks calmed down and remained quiet.