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Firebrand Indian politician Bal Thackeray dies

The founder of a controversial party in India which has links to communal violence has died. Local police have boosted security in case unrest ensues.

Bal Thackeray, an Indian firebrand politician linked to surges in mob violence directed against Muslims and migrant workers, died on Saturday at the age of 86.

Thackeray died at his home in Mumbai following a cardiac arrest. His death was confirmed by his doctor, Dr. Jalil Parker, who told a crowd outside Thackeray's house that one of India's most controversial politicians had “breathed his last.”

The 86-year-old's death follows weeks of illness during which time he was put on a ventilator.

Thackeray's Shiv Sena party, which campaigned for the protection of local Marathi-speakers and their culture from migrants, has been linked to bloody communal violence.

In particular, Shiv Sena member were charged with playing a key part in clashes between Hindus and Muslims between December 1992 and January 1993, which left at least 900 people dead.

Mumbai police have ramped up security in anticipation of possible unrest in response to Thackeray's death.

sej/ipj (AP, AFP)