“You should get around 1,500 people, only then will people take your demands seriously. That’s how Anna (Hazare) did it,” said a 70-year-old man.
His word of advice was for the safai karamcharis sitting on a relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, demanding reservation in schools, government jobs and politics.
A day after social activist Hazare ended his fast a strong Lokpal Bill at Ramlila Maidan, the attention shifted again to Jantar Mantar — Delhi’s favourite protest spot.
Not far from the safai karamcharis, an anti-Anna Hazare protest by the All India Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Organisations’ Federation is on. PL Punia, chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, said: “It was at Ramlila Maidan that the nation was held hostage. We do not support Hazare’s actions as he and his team are trying to destroy the very thing that protects us – the Constitution.”
Praveen Rajpal, member of the federation, said: “Our cry is ‘Save the Constitution, save reservations’. Discrimination is still a reality for us. By not having a member from this community in the committee that will select the lokpal, our rights may get compromised.”
But these two sets of protesters aren’t the only ones making their presence felt at Jantar Mantar.
In one corner, students from Jawaharlal Nehru University and University of Delhi are sitting on an indefinite hunger strike against capital punishment, terming it ‘state-sponsored murder’.
They said Hazare was not their inspiration. Amudhini Ramakrishnan, a student at Lady Shri Ram College, said: “We are doing this in support of four women advocates who are on hunger strike for the past four days opposing the decision to hang (former Prime Minister) Rajiv Gandhi’s supposed assassins.”
The group of students is planning to send postcards to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, President Pratibha Patil and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa asking for mercy for the three persons on death row.