MUMBAI, India — Bal Thackeray, a Hindu extremist leader linked to waves of mob violence against Muslims and migrant workers in India, died Saturday after an illness of several weeks. He was 86.
Mr. Thackeray, a onetime cartoonist, formed the Shiv Sena — which means Shiva’s Army — in 1966 in Maharashtra. The political party’s aim has been to keep people who are not from Maharashtra out of the state and stem the spread of Islam and western values.
In 1992, members of Hindu right-wing groups, including the Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party, were instrumental in destroying a 16th-century mosque in north India that they said was the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama, and Mr. Thackeray was blamed for the violence and rioting that followed. In Mumbai, nearly 1,000 people were killed.
Even though the Shiv Sena’s political grip over Mumbai — its longtime power base — has been waning over the last decade, it still commands tens of thousands of violent followers.