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Mumbai stops for Bal Thackeray

Lakhs of people, including Shiv Sena supporters, thronged the funeral procession of party chief Bal Thackeray on Sunday.

According to Mumbai Police, lakhs of people, including those gathered at the Shivaji Park where the body will be kept and later cremated, had come out to to pay their last respects to Thackeray, who died on Saturday.

Screengrab of crowds outside Sena Bhavan

The Shiv Sainiks were pouring into Mumbai in their thousands from Maharashtra's Thane, Raigad, Pune, Aurangabad and Konkan regions -- the bastions of the right-wing party founded by Thackeray on 19 June, 1966.

Police said around two lakh people were travelling with the procession and many others were joining it from connecting roads, resulting in a procession that is several Kilometres long.

People were also trying to catch a glimpse of the leader's body from rooftops, hoardings, trees, water pipes and parapets.

All major roads and public places wore a deserted look, barring some security vehicles. Restaurants, shops and other establishments remained closed. Over a lakh autorickshaws and around 60,000 black and yellow taxis were also off the roads.

Wrapped in the tricolour, Thackeray's body was brought out of his house a little after 9 am.

His son Uddhav broke down before the procession started. A glass box carrying the Sena patriarch's body was then loaded onto a truck decked with flowers.

Uddhav, wife Rashmi and son Aditya were on the truck with Thackeray's nephew and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj, wife Sharmila and their children.

Raj later disembarked and walked behind the truck with the funeral procession, keeping a low profile and eyes firmly on the ground.

Over 20,000 policemen, 15 companies of State Reserve Police Force and three contingents of Rapid Action Force had been deployed on the procession route, said a police officer.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh even cancelled his daughter's wedding reception Sunday.

After allowing thousands of Shiv Sainiks to pay their respects to Thackeray, the body will be taken to Shivaji Park and kept for a public 'darshan'.