On 17th November 2012, the so called “Tiger”, Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray lost his breath. After fighting for his life, in a critical situation for almost three days at his Mumbai residence ‘matoshri’. His last breath was around 3.30p.m and the death was officially announced in the media at 5p.m. Without a doubt it’s an end of an era in Maharashtra politics.
I was in Mumbai during the announcement. And I saw what it meant for mumbaikars to lose the tiger. Around 6p.m, the whole city came to a standstill or was forced to do so by Shiv Sena supporters. All shutters were down and there were very few vehicles on the roads. I have got to say that I never saw my city so traumatized ever before. In fact the whole state was as still as Balasahebs body. Later I learned that Shiv Sena wants the city shut for three complete days. Police has requested not to use taxis, expressways and major roads till Tuesday to avoid stone pelting. I received dozens of texts to stay indoors and to stay safe. I was puzzled! Except for Shiv Sena supporters (which is a fraction of Mumbai’s population), it’s just a politicians death.
Though I grew up in Mumbai, I was never a fan of Balasaheb. For one thing I knew, he divided people on linguistic basis. He often emphasized in his speeches that the state belongs to Marathi speaking people. I don’t know and sadly I can never know how is that justified, how can you claim a financial capital of a country belonging to a certain language speaking people? Why did the educated Maharashtrians cannot see this divide and target policy? How can educated and civilized people support the use of violence against some people in the city just because they don’t belong to the city?
Thousands of people die every day, but still the world moves on. A politician dies due to natural death and a city shuts for three days! Mumbaikars today are resilient by force not by choice. Respect is earned, not given and definitely not forced. I would say Mumbai is shut today by fear not by respect.
PS: This article is solely based on personal views and observation. I feel proud to use my freedom of speech!