Mumbai shuts down, gets ready for funeral

BEST, Central and Western Railway announce additional services for commuters visiting Shivaji Park today

Within hours of announcement of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's death, the city came to a standstill.

Shops downed shutters, queues at bus stops grew longer and people rushed to railway stations to head home fearing violence.

By 7.30 pm, most taxis and auto-rickshaws were off roads.

"Auto-rickshaw drivers are scared there may be a violent reaction. There are hardly any auto-rickshaws on the road," said Thampi Kurien, an union leader.

BEST stopped plying on certain routes due to stray incidents of mob violence. Services to Trombay, Pratiksha Nagar, Jogeshwari East, Kalanagar and Mulund railway station were stopped after four buses were damaged in stone-pelting at Pantnagar, Naupada in Thane, Pratiksha Nagar and Kamothe.

As a precaution, BEST also suspended operation of AC buses. "For people wanting to go to Shivaji Park on Sunday, BEST has decided to operate extra buses. We shall also start feeder routes in certain areas," a spokesperson said.

Services on harbour line were obstructed in the evening as Sena supporters staged a 'rail roko' between Chembur and Govandi at about 5.30 pm. Government Railway Police personnel rushed to the area and cleared the gathered crowd.

Central and Western Railway cancelled mega blocks scheduled on Sunday on the main and harbour lines and between Borivali and Goregaon on the western line to facilitate commuters visiting Shivaji Park to pay homage to Thackeray.

"Central Railway is attaching more coaches to outstation trains such as Sidheshwari Express for the benefit of those coming to Maharashtra to attend the funeral," said Subodh Jain, general manager.

Traffic curbs

There will be traffic restrictions in place from 6 am-10 pm on Sunday. The traffic department said Veer Savarkar Marg in Dadar West and Annie Besant Road from Mori Road in Mahim to Babasaheb Worlikar Chowk in Prabhadevi would remain closed.

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