Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray was cremated with full state honours at the historic Shivaji park in south-central Mumbai on Sunday evening. An estimated crowd of around two million supporters turned up at to pay their respects to their beloved leader.

Shivaji park has been an integral part of the political journey of the party. In fact, Thackeray’s Dussehra address from the park was the most awaited event in the political calendar of the city.

The Mumbai police gave him a gun salute and also played the last post for him. Following this, the final preparations were made for the funeral pyre. The pyre was lit on a specially-built public platform at the historic park.

It was the first public funeral in the recent history of Mumbai. Earlier, Union Minister and former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh was given a similar public cremation in his home town of Latur.

Thackeray’s final journey from his bungalow, ‘Matoshree’ at Bandra in suburban Mumbai, to the park took almost nine hours. His body was kept at the party’s headquarters, so that his loyal ‘Shiv Sainiks’ could pay their respects.

A number of eminent persons from politics and corporate world reached the park to attend the last rites. At the park, NCP chief and Union Minister for Agriuclture Sharad Pawar, Senior BJP leader L. K. Advani, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, superstar Amitabh Bachchan and business tycoon Anil Ambani also paid final respects to the departed soul.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, in his condolence message said, the State has lost a senior and experienced leader, who was fearless and never minced his words about contentious issues.

rahul.wadke@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 18, 2012)
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