Police advice: stay home

Mumbai, Nov. 17: Mumbai police today issued an unusual advisory, asking denizens of the "Maximum City" to "travel outside their homes only if necessary".

The advisory came even as the Shiv Sena appealed for calm to ensure that no untoward incident occurred in the lead-up to Sunday's cremation.

Police commissioner Satyapal Singh said some 20,000 policemen, 15 companies of the State Reserve Police Force and three of the Rapid Action Force had been deployed across the city.

"We appeal to people to maintain law and order and not believe in rumours. I would also like to appeal to (them to) travel outside their homes only if necessary. There has been no instruction to close down shops or establishments, anyone doing so will be dealt with law," Singh said.

Peace appeals

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cancelled a dinner he was to host for NDA leaders this evening and telephoned Uddhav Thackeray to personally convey his condolences. Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut and executive president Uddhav, too, appealed to party activists to maintain peace.

Traffic

The police also issued another advisory that asked citizens to avoid the Western Express Highway, which goes through Bandra, where Matoshree, the family home of the Thackerays, is located.

Central Railway and Western Railway have cancelled "mega blocks", usually in place on Sundays for maintenance and repairs, so that people can attend the funeral.

An SMS alert Jet Airways sent to its Mumbai-bound passengers said: "You can have difficulty in reaching destination due to traffic congestion."

Fliers could expect a tough time tomorrow, as cab and auto rickshaw services from the domestic airport at Santacruz and the international airport at Sahar will not operate as a mark of respect for Thackeray.

Belgaum bandh

The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, a pressure group of Marathi-speaking residents of Belgaum, Karnataka, have called a "Belgaum bandh" tomorrow. Thackeray had staunchly backed the inclusion of Marathi-speaking regions of Belgaum into Maharashtra in the 50-year-old border dispute.

Cinema and cricket

All cinemas across Maharashtra and Mumbai closed after news of Thackeray's death broke. The theatres will remain closed tomorrow as well. Domestic cricket matches in Mumbai were cancelled, too. So were musical shows.

Shops, hotels

Zaveri Bazar and all jewellery shops in Mumbai downed shutters. They will remain shut tomorrow as well.

Restaurants, coffee shops and bars at five-star hotels remained open but they were largely being used by houseguests. Many cable operators stopped showing entertainment and music channels, though DTH services remained unaffected.

Saving grace

Gurdwaras across Mumbai are open for everyone and will provide food and accommodation to those stranded in the city. Thackeray shared a rapport with the city's Sikh community since the Sena rose to their defence during the 1984 riots following Indira Gandhi's death.

Lata gesture

Singer Lata Mangeshkar had earlier postponed a music event scheduled for Sunday. Today, she said Maharashtra had been "orphaned" by Thackeray's death.