From a motley gathering of 250-odd people — largely comprising teenagers and volunteers of India Against Corruption — to a crowd of more than 10,000 from all walks of life, the transformation at India Gate was a matter of just about an hour. The crowd turned out to be nearly 25,000 by the time it reached Parliament Street.
Responding to Hazare’s call, people from all walks of life — students from government schools, budding doctors from a medical college, young scientists from a top Ghaziabad PSU and retired government officials — marched from India Gate to Parliament Street on Wednesday evening, demanding a strong Lokpal Bill.
Wearing Gandhi topis, with national flags and placards in their hands, the crowd took two rounds of the roundabout facing National Stadium before proceeding to Jantar Mantar.
“Corruption is very deep-rooted in our lives and affects every person. It is time we raised our voice. I took a half-day leave from office to be a part of this campaign,” said Suhas Gautam, an engineer from Gurgaon.
They may not understand the nitty-gritty of the difference between the two drafts of the bill — one prepared by the government and the other by civil society — but they do believe that the former’s bill would prove “ineffective” to check corruption at the “highest level”.
“Sabse zyada corrupt to bade mantri log hain (Big ministers are the most corrupt),” said Sunil Kumar, a class 9 student of a government school, who along with friends had come to take part in the protest march.
People descended over to Connaught Place after office hours to add to the swelling protesting crowd. By the time the group reached Parliament Street, where members of Team Anna addressed them,the number had reached almost 25,000.
“Anna Hazare and his team are fighting to give our next generation a corruption-free country. I know I can’t go out and be a part of the group, but I can certainly cheer and support them from here (the compound of his office),” said DS Rawat, a senior manager with a public sector bank at Parliament Street.