Wilting under the sun at Azad Maidan on Saturday, Shobha Sonawane, 37, barely manages a smile. About 25 meters away, a cavalcade of supporters of the Jan Lokpal Bill campaign are wrapping up their protest after a victorious Anna Hazare called off his fast in New Delhi on Saturday morning.
Sonawane and her group of about 100 women from across the state have also been fasting since Wednesday, but are largely invisible. All part-time sanitary workers at government hospitals, these women are demanding an increase in their monthly salary, from Rs 900 to Rs 3,000. From Wednesday, 20 have been hospitalised.
On the same protesting ground at Azad Maidan, three sets of hunger strikes have laid low a series of protestors. “We have been starving for four days, but no one has even looked our way?” said Sonawane, who has come here from Aurangabad. “When we approached health minister Suresh Shetty, he said he would help us, but didn’t give us any specifics.”
Not far away, a group of school officials have been fasting since March 1, demanding the aid due to 138 schools catering to children with special needs.
Before the group of school authorities called off their hunger strike on March 20, when the social welfare department assured them that their “file had moved”, 11 of their protestors had been hospitalised.