The three days of drama that was played out by channels finally ended as his funeral pyre was consigned to flame ,mercifully, without Mumbai being burnt. However, his eulogization contined for long, very long.
He was a man who was accused in dozens of different criminal cases, was indicted by law for his supremacy in the Bombay riots, had boasted that if he is arrested than the whole of Bombay will burn and yet none of the famed journalists, columnists, anchors and activists, even mentioned, even for the sake of moral ethics, the dark side of this man. Was it fear? Hypocrisy? or both?
The next day came as a bigger shock, with all the newspapers devoting most of their resources to glorify the tale of this man, who much to my amusement, was called by one of the channels as the ‘tiger’ of Maharashtra.
He was glorified when he was alive and he immortalized when he died. I was told by some of my friends that Mumbai mourned, like it has never before, on his death. But I believe that even though the decibel was much lower and there was not a human flood to prove it, yet the heart of Mumbai bled the most when it was attacked on the infamous night of 26/11.
Even though the ocean of followers gave the "undisputed king of Mumbai" a teary farewell, as described by a leading English daily, it is not a big ask to imagine the pain of Mumbaikars, would have been much more, when Mumbai was burning during the 1992 riots, which led to the ‘E’ from the iconic ‘Bombay dyeing’ being erased.
The man was responsible for holding a beautiful city to ransom till he was alive and when he died the city still struggled to come out of its suffocating hold.
He created a myth that it was because of him that the under world was checked and it was because of him that the ‘religious balance’ of the city was kept in check.
Such was his legacy, some ‘idiot’ might call it fear, that people who are admired by thousand others, made sure that their name is registered in the list of those who paid their last homage to him. He ruled through fear and this fear was evident even after his death.
But let’s step back and think of those who lost their lives in the hands of his goons. What would have been going though their minds? How would have they felt after witnessing the endless onslaught of glorification and eulogizing of someone who single handedly sowed a seed of long lasting mistrust between two communities? Someone who became world famous for ‘successfully’ holding Bombay riots?
B.N. Srikrishna Commission, that was asked to look into the riots, had these words for him-"Veteran general commanding his loyal Shiv Sainiks to retaliate by organised attacks against Muslims.”
The commission had left nothing to ambiguity – “There is no doubt that the Shiv Sena and Shiv Sainiks took the lead in organising attacks on Muslims and their properties under the guidance of several leaders" from the level of shakha pramukh to that of Sena chief Bal Thackeray”.
But this man was never arrested, never faced trial and was never asked that how does one justify the killing of harmless humans. He was a shadow of darkness that was there even on the brightest of Mumbai night. His arrest was unthinkable- Bombay would have burned.
Whom were we praising? Some anchors told me that he was a mass leader, an efficient organizer or more ironically an artist of par excellence, who was put in the same league of R.K Lakshman by others.
But, was not he responsible for 900 deaths in Mumbai? No- that happened in 1992. Twenty years of politics and hooliganism can wash of many things, including murder.
Some would say that he deserved the state funeral that he was accorded with. They will also say that his final journey was well served by the presence of superstars, industrialists and politicians alike. But a few would like to know that was not he a murderer after all? A mass murderer?
They tell me that thousands cried when he passed away but spare a moment for those who died in 1992 and their relatives who will have to live with the fact that the perpetrator of those riots died without being brought to justice.
Mumbai might have cried for him but it was Bombay that suffered the most because of him.