The police said elaborate security arrangements have been made for Sunday – from 6am to 3pm – when Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s body will be taken to the Shivaji Park cremation grounds. Lakhs of people are expected to converge at Shivaji Park and around to catch a last glimpse of the Shiv Sena chief.
Although the police said they do not anticipate any trouble, commissioner of police Dr Satyapal Singh said that the police force was prepared to tackle any eventuality.
On Saturday, rigorous police arrangement was made throughout the city, especially in the vicinity of the Thackeray residence, in the Bandra-Kurla Complex and around Shiv Sena Bhavan at Dadar.
“Around 20,000 policemen will be deployed in the city along with 15 companies of state reserve police force (SRPF) and three companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) to ensure that the situation remains under control,” said Singh. “All policemen have been asked to patrol the city.”
Besides, 2,000 policemen from outside the state have been summoned to the city to beef up security. The bomb detection and disposal squad and the dog squad has also been put on alert.
Sunday will see heavy deployment of Railway Protection Force and railway police personnel at Dadar since the railways expect throngs of people to alight at the station to make their way to Shivaji Park for Thackeray’s final rites.
According to officials, apart from the usual posse, an extra company of 130 Railway Police Force personnel will also be deployed at Dadar.
Singh appealed to citizens to step out only in case of an emergency, adding that it is advisable to avoid the Western Express Highway. Singh exhorted citizens to maintain peace and calm. “Do not believe in rumours,” he added.
Starting from Matoshri, Bal Thackeray’s Mahayatra is expected to reach Shivaji Park around 10am. The body will be kept for darshan till 5pm, said a Sena functionary. There will be detailed traffic arrangements in the city along with arrangements for VIP movement which is not likely to affect others.
“We have not asked anybody to shut down their establishments nor have we received information of people being forced to do so,” said Singh, adding that the police would not allow anybody to force people to shut down their shops.
The state government on Saturday issued an alert call to the state administration, with police personnel being deployed especially in sensitive districts, including Mumbai. State chief secretary Jayant Banthia told DNA on Saturday evening that all district collectors and divisional commissioners had been directed to be prepared. “Leave sanctioned to police personnel have already been cancelled. We have adequate deployment across the state,” said Banthia.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had a meeting with key police officials for more than two hours on Friday, during which Chavan reportedly expressed concern over the law and order situation in the wake of ongoing agitations by sugarcane farmers in Western Maharashtra.
A review meeting was called after Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde called up Chavan and assured him of additional central forces. The home department anticipated untoward incidents and clashes in parts of the state as Sena workers would try to observe a complete bandh across the state.