Two Deaths

India’s premier city Bombay saw two noteworthy deaths in the past few days.

Firstly, the leader and founder of the ultra-right party Shiv Sena died a natural death at age 86 leaving his legacy to his son and grandson. (Here’s a link to his life and times.) Bal Thackeray founded the party after he resigned his job as a cartoonist in The Free Press Journal. He then went on to espouse the cause of the sons-of-the-soil in job allocations in Bombay, India’s premier business destination. Often he used strong-arm methods to force his policies on those who were recalcitrant, and those whose ideology was divergent from his own. But later in life many of his trusted generals deserted him. Still he carried on in spite of several cases being filed against his unconventional methods. He used bandhs (total closure of work) to force governments to accept his demands. His workers were not averse to using violence against the Communist trade unionists and workers of other parties. Ageing and infirm, another trusted aide Raj Thackeray, his nephew, deserted him to form his own party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which has carved its constituency out of the Shiv Sena’s vote bank. The end came on 17th November 2012, and with that a chapter in Indian politics  ended.

Secondly, Ajmal Kasab, an extremist who came to India to kill people randomly four years ago in 2008 was executed in Yeravada jail, near Bombay. Allegedly he was trained by extremist outfits in Pakistan to carry out his crime. Ajmal was one of the nine extremists in his team who spread carnage inside the busy train Terminus named Victoria Terminus and two premium five-star hotels, Hotel Trident and Hotel Taj Mahal (where the cost of one night is equal to an Indian man’s one month’s salary). Out of the team of nine extremists he was the only one to be captured and was kept in a high-security prison for four years while his case was heard in courts and went up to the Supreme Court of India. After he lost all the cases his plea for mercy was sent to the president Pranab Mukherjee, who also rejected it. Ultimately the law had to take its course and he was taken to the high-security prison in Yeravada, near Bombay, secretly in the night. The end came on 21st November 2012 when the hangman put the noose around his neck.