India says farewell to firebrand Hindu-nationalist Bal Thackeray

Bal Keshav Thackeray, one of India's most polarising politicians and chief of the influential right-wing party Shiv Sena, that has dominated politics in the country's richest city Mumbai for two decades, died at the age of 86 on November 17. He was admitted into a central Mumbai hospital in July and died of cardio-respiratory arrest at his home, the doctor, Jalil Parker, said. The leader was as famous for his saffron-coloured robes, white beard and tinted sunglasses as his firebrand rhetoric on social issues such as immigration and communalism. One of the most prominent and outspoken figures of the Hindu nationalist movement, Thackeray had called for the formation of Hindu suicide squads, ordered followers to dig up a cricket pitch to stop the Pakistani team from playing in Mumbai and has told newspapers of his admiration for Adolf Hitler.