The condition of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray that deteriorated on Wednesday night was said to be critical but stable on Thursday night.
Senior party leader Sanjay Raut told journalists that the 86-year-old leader was responding to treatment and had been taken off life support.
Worries over Thackeray’s deteriorating health had resulted in deserted streets, especially in Sena strongholds of Dadar and Parel, on Thursday. This followed stray incidents of violence near Thackeray’s residence, Matoshree, in Bandra (East) on Wednesday night.
The violence started after thousands of people, including Shiv Sena workers and party leaders, arrived at Matoshree late on Wednesday following reports that Thackeray had been put on life support. As emotions ran high, some TV reporters present there were manhandled and their equipment damaged.
Uddhav Thackeray intervened at 2am when he addressed the growing crowd, asking them to maintain calm and not pay heed to rumours. He said doctors were trying their best and he was hopeful that his father would recover.
On Thursday morning, without any positive reports regarding Thackeray’s health, many offices announced holidays even as attendance in other offices was thin.
The city wore a deserted look throughout the day as shops were shut (by Sena workers in some areas) and roads were deserted with hardly any taxis or autorickshaws plying.
Sena leader Subhash Desai asked party workers on Thursday to remain calm. "We are grateful for the prayers and support of millions of Thackeray’s admirers and supporters from across the country," he said. He told journalists that a team of doctors was constantly monitoring the Sena leader and his condition was "gradually improving".
As Sainiks poured into Bandra (East) throughout the day on Thursday, security was beefed up in the area as well as in the city. Apart from the police, four companies of the Rapid Action Force have been deployed at Matoshree. The State Reserve Police Force has been put on duty from Matoshree to Kurla and Kalina.
The state was also put on high alert. "The police have been directed to take adequate precautions and deploy policemen in all districts," Satej Patil, minister of state for home, said.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the Thackeray residence saw a steady stream of visitors including the chief minister, party leaders cutting across political lines, Bollywood stars, and industrialists.