Activist Anna Hazare’s arrest sparked off protests of unprecedented magnitude in several parts of the city. Protesters began gathering in several parts of the city within hours of his arrest.
Outside the Pragati Maidan Metro Station, approximately 1,500 people assembled in protest. Meanwhile, at the Jayaprakash Narayan Park — the primary venue for Hazare’s fast — the police had set up heavy barricading at the entrance and blocked half the carriageway.
As and when people came out in protest at these venues, they were bundled into buses and dropped off at the outskirts of the city by the police.
However, this action failed to curb the agitated protesters. “I am courting arrest not just to demand a strong Jan lokpal bill, but to protest against the atrocities of the government which has turned into a dictatorship,” said Ramesh Jha, a DU professor.
While the police claimed that most protesters were courting arrest voluntarily, a large section was being roughed up and forcefully bundled into police vehicles. “Where are all the promises the government made? We are being held against our will,” said Srikanth Dubey, a member of a farmers’ union from Madhya Pradesh.
But members of Hazare’s jan lokpal bill team claimed that the adverse reactions of the government and police will spark off further protests. “I am glad the government is retaliating in this manner. The more they use force, the more it will harden people’s resolve to fight,” said Harsh Modi, a volunteer.
Large number of children accompanied by their parents too joined the protest. Students from DU too came out in support of Hazare’s cause. “We need a larger section of the youth to voice its protest. At the moment, the situation is very comfortable for the government,” said Richa Bahuguna, a student from Hans Raj College.