People from various walks of life and age groups showed their support to activist Anna Hazare who began his indefinite hunger strike in Delhi on Tuesday.
Hazare is fighting for the enactment of the Jan Lokpal Bill by the central government.
Hazare received strong support from his home state as demonstrations and agitations were staged in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Kolhapur, Nashik and various other parts of Maharashtra.
In Mumbai, the main event took place at Azad Maidan where thousands of people participated in a day-long hunger strike organised by ‘India Against Corruption’ movement to support the social crusader.
The campaign began with a car and bike rally from Shivaji Park in central Mumbai to Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.
“We opted for the rally so that we could reach out to a large section of people and spread awareness about the Jan Lokpal Bill and its need in today’s time,” said Mayank Gandhi, from India Against Corruption. “We distributed pamphlets, placed hoardings across the city, pasted stickers on the vehicle and distributed over one lakhs badges during the rally.”
Various non-government organisations, citizen, theatre and religious groups also participated in the event. Prominent among them were Jagrut Nagrik Manch, Sadbhavana Sangh, Art of Living, H-West Federation of Citizens, Juhu Citizen Welfare Association, Bombay Catholic Sabha and National Alliance of People’s Movement.
“People from all caste, communities and class came together for one single demand. This shows how badly our democracy needs this bill. It’s high time the government listen to the public and do something for the nations,” said Kunickaa Lall, actor and social activist.
“We expect proper investigation into corruption cases only if stringent laws are enforced,” said Bhagvanji Raiyani, chairman and managing trustee, Forum for Fast Justice.
Meanwhile, the atmosphere at Azad Maidan buzzed with energy. Apart from speeches, the crowd was singing patriotic songs written by the nation’s freedom fighters.
In the evening, about 50 members of ‘India Against Corruption’ movement distributed pamphlets near the CST station to make citizens aware of the imperative need of the Lokpal Bill.
“We will continue our fasting and protests till the time our demands are fulfilled completely. We support Anna [Hazare],” said Vyomesh Panchmatiya, a city-based businessman.
Gandhi said agitations were also held in Thane, Navi Mumbai, Panvel, Pune and Nashik. “We want to spread out the campaign to various parts of the state so that the government pays heed to our demands,” he said.
In Pune, activists of Anti-Corruption Committee organised a morcha and also observed a one-day fast to support Hazare. Vivek Welankar of Sajag Nagarik Manch said the committee would continue its signature campaign to garner more support for the enactment of the Jan Lokpal Bill.