All roads, bylanes and even specially-hired tourist vehicles led towards India Gate on Sunday as thousands of people from all walks of life marched down the ‘power corridor’ to express their solidarity with Anna Hazare.
Even as the sixth day of the 73-year-old anti-graft crusader’s indefinite hunger strike drew to an end, students, families and varied groups descended on the colonial war memorial before proceeding onwards to the Ramlila Maidan, the seat of his campaign, through New Delhi.
“Anna is India and India is Anna,” exclaimed the 70-year-old Surinder Chopra, a retired government official who was being assisted across the road by a group of Team Anna volunteers. He wanted to be a part of the 30,000-strong throng of supporters. “I have been born and brought up in this city. I have worked for the government all my life but couldn’t do much to clean the system. And here’s this man, older and more frail than me, who is ready to lay down his life down for us. My age is no longer an impediment for me,” Chopra said.
Though traffic norms were visibly flouted, as groups of supporters triple-rode on motorcycles and four-wheelers honked their horns in unison, the rally, says the Delhi Police, was among the most peaceful ever witnessed by the Capital. Around 3,500 officers, drawn from two local districts and traffic unit, had been deployed along the entire five-kilometre-route.
“Though the numbers were alarming at first, the rally was very peaceful and no untoward incident was brought to our notice,” said a senior police officer requesting anonymity.
The swarm of supporters marched through several lanes, predominantly the Jaswant Singh Road and the adjacent Atul Grove Road, Tolstoy Marg, KG Marg and the Madhavrao Scindia Marg, to make their way towards the Ranjit Singh flyover where the candles were finally brought to life.
Activists occupied both carriageways of the flyover to proceed to Ramlila Ground where they were greeted by loud cheers from the protesters already assembled there. “According to intelligence inputs, as many as 60,000 supporters are estimated to be part of the gathering at Ramlila Ground tomorrow,” the officer said.