Mumbai disrupted as Bal Thackeray fights for his life
Mumbai: Parts of Mumbai were shut down on Thursday as supporters of firebrand Hindu nationalist leader Bal Keshav Thackeray flocked into India's commercial capital, alarmed by reports that he was close to death after a sharp decline in his health.
An official of Thackeray's Shiv Sena party told Reuters that the 86-year-old was in a critical condition and on a ventilator, with doctors attending to him around the clock.
Founder and president of the hardline Shiv Sena (Shiva's Army), Thackeray has long been one of India's most polarising politicians. Although one of Mumbai's most influential public figures, he has been widely criticised for his fiery rhetoric on social issues such as immigration and communalism.
Hundreds of Thackeray's followers kept vigil outside his house in Mumbai's central suburbs on Thursday, under a heavy police presence, including riot officers who barricaded roads and set up a security cordon in case of violence. Protests by party supporters in the past have led to violence.