Residents of this village, glued to TV sets since morning, erupted in joy as one amongst them, Anna Hazare, called off his five-day old hunger strike after the Government issued a gazette notification constituting a panel to draft an effective Lok Pal Bill.
"Anna is expected to reach here in the next few days. We have planned a grand welcome for him. A victory procession will be organised," Datta Awari, who handles Hazare's office at the village, said. The villagers observed a bandh on Thursday to express solidarity with the social crusader, who was on an indefinite hunger strike in New Delhi to press for the enactment of the anti-corruption bill. Ralegan Siddhi villagers hoisted black flags or tied black cloth on 'gudis' (sticks) in 'Gudi Padva' (Marathi New Year) as a mark of protest against the government on April 4, a day before Hazare began his fast.
"Now we will celebrate the real 'Gudi Padva' after Hazare arrives here," Awari said. Since the last five days, around 2,000 inhabitants of Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district, 79 km north of Pune, were worried about the health of the anti-corruption crusader.
On Thursday, the work in the fields came to a standstill and every shops remained shut as people expressed their solidarity with Hazare. Since April 5, locals in groups had observed a relay hunger strike at Yadavbaba temple, where Hazare stays while in the village. Meanwhile, supporters of Hazare, gathered at Azad Maidan in Mumbai since the last five days, celebrated as the noted Gandhian ended his fast.