Thousands of young people had gathered at Jantar Mantar on Thursday. Youngsters in shorts and sunglasses pushed forward to get a glimpse of the person at the centre. Filmstars had been tweeting about wanting to meet him since Wednesday. He is not a celebrity. But for celebrities and the aam aadmi alike, Anna Hazare, 78, may well be a rockstar.
Anti-corruption crusader Hazare’s decision to fast until the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed, has drawn out Delhi’s youth in support of the cause. “If the bill is passed, we can actually dream of a corruption-free India,” says Sneha Sharma, 21, a DU student.
“I have come all the way from Coimbatore for this. It’s time we had a body by the people to demand answers against corruption,” says Uma Jairam, a housewife.
Pallavi Keshv, 36
This Delhi-based entrepreneur was tired of just talking about corruption. She felt it was time to do something and joined the protesters at Jantar Mantar on Thursday. “I decided to come out of my comfort zone,” she says.
Shashi Singh, 20
On Wednesday night, Singh saw a report about the Lokpal bill on TV and decided to reach Jantar Mantar to show her solidarity. “I realised that if such an aged man can go on hunger strike for the country, then obviously, we young people can lend our support to him,” she says.
Srishti Rana, 20
A student of Manav Rachna International University in Faridabad, Rana came all the way to Central Delhi to support the cause. “Corruption is evil and it will not allow this country to progress. If we do not come forward now, then who will?” she questions.
Gaurav Dhingra, 21
A student of IIPM, Dhingra says he doesn’t want to be left behind in this protest. “Anna is leading a great movement and this is our chance to throw away the corrupt politicians and do something for the country. This is our fight,” he says.
An online revolution
Anna Hazare’s (right) cause has caught on like wildfire on the Web — fan groups have been formed in social networking site Facebook, hundreds of tweets are pouring in every hour and websites are being dedicated to the cause of anti-corruption.
On Facebook, there are 20 groups in aid of the cause. A Facebook page in support of Hazare’s campaign — India Against Corruption — has more than 89,000 likes. ‘We are with Anna Sir. May God give him enough strength to tackle the scores of corrupt politicians across the party lines,” writes Rajiv Tyagi on the page.
Another page — Anna Hazare — has above 20,000 followers. “Don’t crib later on for the corrupt government. Now is time to do something for the nation. Start by putting Anna Hazare picture as your profile pic (sic),” posted Sankalp Aggarwal. On Thursday, Hazare was also trending on microblogging site Twitter. “About time someone stood against corruption. Time we did something about it,” tweeted Aruna Gupta.
Celeb fan followers
It’s usually ONE person that makes a difference. Anna Hazare we are with you
—Sonakshi Sinha, 24, actor
If any of you have evaded taxes or done anything corrupt, you’re one of the bad guys
—Siddharth, 31, actor
I support Anna Hazare. You are what you do and not what you think you should do.
—Paulo Coelho, 64, author
I support Anna Hazare. Its TIME to make a CHANGE!
—Hrithik Roshan, 37, actor
While the protest is on...
Ever since Anna Hazare began his fast at Jantar Mantar, the site has been crowded by visitors. And street vendors are cashing in on this, making some quick moolah. Shravan Kumar, who sells cucumber, says, “On other days, I sell 20 kgs of cucumber by 7pm, but today it’s all sold out by 3pm.” Jaljeera and bel juice-seller Shambhu Chauhan from Chandini Chowk has shifted to Jantar Mantar for now.
“It’s so hot that everyone wants something to drink. My sales have almost doubled.”
Prem Kumar, the owner of a road-side kiosk, says, “Usually, I sell only four to five packets of biscuits; but now, I am selling about 100 packets a day.” Vinod Kumar, who sells sprout snack, has shifted from Paharganj for the time being. “We got to know something big is happening so I came here, where I can earn about R300 a day,” he says.
The bigger joints in the area — Janta Canteen and Kutty’s South Indian Snacks — however, say there’s been no change in business.