The profile of Chhatrasal Stadium has changed thrice in the last three days. The sports venue, which was turned into a makeshift jail by the Delhi Police to detain thousands of Anna Hazare supporters, has now become a base camp for the protesters who are waiting for their anti-corruption crusader to begin his fast at Ramlila Ground.
Hazare's indefinite fast is scheduled to begin on Friday. Protesters, who came from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and other states, do not intend to move to Ramlila Ground as they do not want to lose their free shelter at the stadium. They plan to use the venue as their night camp.
“We'll join Anna’s movement in batches so that we don't lose this venue. We are getting free food and shelter. Some of us will stay back while others will join Hazare at Ramlila Ground. We plan to stay here till his fast continues,” said Mohit Kundu, a supporter from Sonepat, Haryana.
Many protesters left the stadium, located in north Delhi's Model Town area, on Thursday and moved elsewhere but scores of others, including women, are refusing to vacate the place as they have nowhere else to go.
“We can't afford to stay at hotels. Over here, NGOs are giving us good food. We have unlimited water supply and the washrooms are much better than public toilets,” said Anand Prakash, a protester from Rewari, Haryana.
Ruchir Yadav, who came from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur said: "We have a roof above our heads and a place to sleep. Around 60 people from my region are here. We will stay here till the government agrees to Anna’s demands."
The protestors have set up a medical desk and are also cleaning the stadium and toilets themselves.
“We are maintaining everything. Four or five people are always on cleaning duty,” said Kundu.
“It is our duty to maintain this place. Anna has called for a non-violent protest and the conventional rule is not to damage public property.”
The Delhi Police is also providing water tankers and an ambulance that is parked outside the stadium. “I don’t think they will vacate this stadium anytime soon as they are getting good facilities. It’s better for them to stay here than spending nights at railway stations and bus stops,” said a police officer.