You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe



Death of an Indian extremist

Mumbai, India’s financial capital, was veiled in eerie silence last Sunday as more than a million people gathered to bid farewell to Bal Thackeray, the 86-year-old extremist leader who was the person most responsible for changing the name of the city from Bombay. Alas, that was among the most benign of his agitations: His vitriolic speeches against “outsiders” — Muslims and Hindus who did not hail from his Marathi ethnic group — have been blamed for riots that caused more than a thousand deaths.

Widely admired and widely loathed, Thackeray symbolizes one of the greatest challenges that India faces in its bid to become a leader of the modern, democratic world. His followers vandalized shops for selling Valentine’s Day merchandise on the grounds that it was too foreign. They denounced women wearing Western apparel. They beat up cab drivers, vegetable vendors, milkmen — all hailing from North India — simply for their presence in Mumbai.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week