There was a shutdown on Wednesday in Ralegan Siddhi of Ahmednagar district, where Jawaharlal Nehru was imprisoned during the Quit India Movement, in honour of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, still fasting in jail in Delhi. Hazare is a resident of the village.
All activities have stopped since Tuesday morning, when Hazare was arrested.
Shops and educational institutions are closed for the last two days. Farming, too, has stopped.
About 600 people went on token hunger strike at the Yadavbaba temple, where Hazare stays.
Villagers are gathering every night at the temple, where the next day's agitation programme is chalked out.
The gramsabha (a meeting of the entire village) on August 15 decided to continue its non-violent agitation as long as Hazare continued his fast. Villagers are in touch with Hazare through a group of 15 people accompanying him in Delhi.
Village youth Santosh Mapari said, "Our objective is the passing of the Jan Lokpal bill. We are sure Anna will emerge victorious since he is fighting for a noble cause."
Latabai Kamble, another resident of Ralegan Siddhi, said the government had not realised the "inner strength" of Hazare.
"He never takes any wrong decision and fights for the people's cause and not for personal gains," she remarked.
They are angry with the government for "continuously cheating" Hazare and the treatment meted out to him.
‘Will welcome him’
Residents have said they will give Hazare a welcome like the one on April 12, when he returned to his village after working out an agreement with the government.
On Wednesday, women and children observed a token fast. Supporters from across the state have started coming to Ralegan Siddhi to express their solidarity.
People in other villages are also participating in the agitation. Security has been stepped in the village to avoid any untoward incident. There is tension in the entire area.
A day earlier, several villagers, including women and children, gathered on the main road as soon as news of Haraze’s arrest reached here at 8am. When they heard he was taken to Tihar Jail, their fury knew no bounds.
A group of 15 from Ralegan Siddhi had gone to Delhi to participate in the agitation. Two of them — Sanjay Pathare and Dadasaheb Pathare — were arrested along with Hazare on Tuesday morning.