"If Anna can fast at this age, if Arvindji can fast despite health problems, then why can't I?" said Noida resident Chanchal Sharma, a student preparing for UGC NET, when asked why she joined the indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.
At 25, Sharma is the youngest of the 500-odd people on indefinite fast who joined Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai for yet another leg of India Against Corruption's (IAC) agitation demanding a strong Lokpal.When Team Anna reached the venue after a visit to Rajghat around noon, the crowds were visibly thinner. However, as the day ended, hundreds had poured in with a distinct presence of those from rural areas. However, Delhi Police estimated the number at around 1,500-1,600.
Shally Gupta, a housewife from Ambala, said: "We pay taxes but there is no development for us. I don't know where the agitation is headed. The government is shameless."
Anna Hazare, who became the face of movement since April 2011, however, did not fast but announced that he would fast unto death on July 29 after the government's decision.
Hazare and Kejriwal were vocal in condemning the government, which has "repeatedly betrayed the people of the country by breaking its promise for a Lokpal".
"We have seen the betrayal of the government last year. That will not happen this time. It's a struggle against a corrupt government and we will win it," said Nandini Kukreja, a masters student from DU.
Added Balbir Singh Lohchab, who has joined the fast unto death, "As and when there would be Lokpal, a person asking for bribe will think at least once of the consequences. There would be a lot more accountability."
Earlier, just when Hazare and team reached the venue, about 50-odd members claiming to be from the National Students Union of India (NSUI) staged a protest and shouted slogans against Kejriwal and others. NSUI, however, denied their members had protested.
Meanwhile, through the day at Jantar Mantar a large contingent of volunteers, about 700, managed the crowds, tended the 500-odd ‘anshankaris’ and distributed water among other works for smooth agitation. Around 150 people received aid at the medical counter with most of them facing problems due to humidity and weakness.
While patriotic songs and Lokpal anthem dominated during the day, the evening concluded with bhajans. Audiotapes were also being played for the gathering at the protest spot.