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Uncommon protests stir Delhi

Who came out in support of Anna Hazare on Wednesday and turned Delhi's streets into a battleground? HT reports. Battleground Delhi

delhi Updated: Aug 18, 2011 01:45 IST
HT Correspondents

Who came out in support of Anna Hazare on Wednesday and turned Delhi's streets into a battleground?

The answer is simple. The common man.

People - not agenda-driven professional NGO workers or politically motivated party-workers, but real people from various walks of life - filled up protest sites by the thousands.

Battered by corruption in daily life, fed up of news of scams and arrests of alleged scamsters, the common man's anger was simmering. Then the 'authorities' arrested Anna Hazare, and all hell broke loose.

And over a quarter of a lakh of people came out in the open.

"The arrest shows that they want to kill the only serious fight against corruption we have in the country right now. How can we keep quiet at a time like this?" said Dr Puneet Goel from Maulana Azad Medical College.

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Apart from housewives, senior citizens and social workers, students from various institutes and young executives packed the sites.

They brought in their colourful protests full of songs, creative slogans and posters. They dared the government to arrest all of them.

Not all of them knew the nitty-gritties of the two versions of the lokpal bill, but they had their hearts in the right place.

"The government does not want to include the highest offices under the purview of the lokpal. Instead, they want to stifle Anna's voice by arresting him," said Neeraj Shukla, a finance executive from Tata Consultancy Services, who came to Tihar with his colleagues.

They had all skipped their regular routines to be there.

"We told our teachers that we would be going to support the protest today and they gave us the permission," Rakesh Kumar a student of Madhubala Institute of Communication.

Unlike political rallies, no one had organised transport for them; no one had guaranteed food or water.

Following the textbook definition of old-school protests, people kept arriving simply because they wanted to be there.

What helped was the fact that Delhi is now on a Metro map. So protesters filled the Metro coaches as various stations became the meeting points - Model Town for Chattrasal Stadium, Tilak Nagar for Tihar Jail, and Mandi House for India Gate sites.

"We have brought 500 people to stand up for Annaji," said Das Deshraj, a member of a religious sect called Dharmik Satsang in Loni on the Delhi-Ghaziabad border.

Resident welfare associations assembled in neigbourhoods and arrived to chip in with their bit not just in Delhi but in the NCR as well.

Nearly 500 residents marched to Gurgaon's Palam Vihar police station and demanded to court arrest in support of Hazare. Members of the newly formed residents' forum, Gurgaon Morca, observed relay fasts all day.