Thousands throng Matoshree


Sainiks pray for Thackeray's recovery; stars call on Sena chief kin

For thousands of Shiv Sena supporters and party workers, Diwali was over on Wednesday itself. Many camped outside Matoshree — the Thackeray residence at Kalanagar — praying for Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's speedy recovery.

The area around Matoshree had a thick police cover through Thursday as loyalists and party workers gathered in large numbers to get a veritable update on his health and glimpse of the leader.

Double barricades were put up on both sides of the house as the crowd surged. The Sena loyalists, ranging from an 11-year-old son of a party worker to a 70-year-old woman walking with a bend in her back, sat on dividers and pavements, going without food and water for hours, restless for some news.

Police cover was doubled on Thursday morning and additional 500 metres were cordoned off, with the help of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and platoons of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF). Speakers were put up for public announcements and halogen lights were set up for vigil through the night. Every half-an-hour, a political leader or a prominent personality would emerge from Matoshree and people waiting rushed towards the person for some news, making their way through television cameras and booms.

"The party hasn't communicated anything to us about his health since Dussehra. So many party workers have been waiting here since yesterday. Many are angry that actors and celebrities are being allowed to go inside and get an update on Balasaheb's health, but we, who have been associated with Shiv Sena for years, don't get to know what is happening," said Yashwant Sawant, a party worker living in a chawl near Bandra government colony. He had been waiting outside Matoshree since 10 pm on Wednesday.

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