Thousands of his countrymen, from all walks of life and beyond state borders, chose to stay away from the comfort of their homes to pledge support to 73-year-old Anna Hazare as the anti-graft crusader stuck fast to his indefinite hunger strike at Tihar Jail in west Delhi on Wednesday.
Not having eaten since being held, and subsequently released, by the Delhi Police for expressing his wish to defy prohibitory orders at central Delhi’s JP Park on Tuesday morning, Anna is understood to have sat cross-legged at the Jail number four’s New Admission Block even as a sea of humanity waited for him to walk out at any moment.
“We walked 20 kilometres from the lodge where we are staying in south Delhi’s Green Park to receive Annaji,” said Laxman Satare, 37, part of a group of 60-odd people from different villages in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, where Anna’s village Ralegan Sidhi is also located.
While this group, composed predominantly of farmers, sang ‘Tod marda tod hee choukhati’ (loosely translated as Oh youth, break the mould of your lives’ routine), slogans of ‘Sarkari Lokpal Dhokha
Hai, Desh Ko Badlo Mauka Hai’ (The Government’s Lokpal (Bill) is a Farce, Change the Nation this is your Chance) emanated from a contingent of school students waving the tricolour.
Residents of the Lajwanti Enclave area, opposite the office of the director general (prisons), distributed water-packets and snacks to the Gandhian’s supporters as senior Delhi Police officers kept an eye on the law and order situation while sipping cold coffees in the shade.
“Patriotism can mean different things to different people; some people put-on a uniform and battle on the frontier, some go on hunger strikes to rid their country of the disease of corruption and small people like us try to do their bit through little deeds like these,” said Pankaj Malhotra, 45, a local resident who was offering free water to Anna’s ever-growing support base beyond Tihar’s sprawling campus.
Located on the junction of some of the Capital’s most densely-populated areas such as Janakpuri, Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar and Mayapuri crossing, Tihar was among the most popular points of convergence in the Capital throughout the day.