Not all Mumbaiites spent Independence Day lolling lazily at home. A day before social activist Anna Hazare begins his indefinite fast in New Delhi against the official Jan Lokpal bill, volunteers of the NGO, India Against Corruption (IAC), organised protest marches and rallies across the city on Monday.
There were rallies organised in various parts across the city through the day, including prabhat pheris (morning rally) at SK Patil Udyan in Charni Road and outside Borivli police station.
A protest march was organised from Girgaum CP Tank via Bhuleshwar, Dadi Sheth Agyari Lane, Kalbadevi, Chira Bazaar road and back to CP Tank.
There were also several rallies across the suburbs, at Mulund east railway station, Rajawadi naka in Ghatkopar, Kannamwar Nagar in Vikhorli and opposite the Kaifi Azmi Park in Juhu.
“I am here to let the government know that peaceful protest is every citizen’s right. Corruption is an issue but now we are also opposing the government’s attempt to suppress people’s voice,” said Romita Bajoria, 38, a Lokhandwala resident, who was at Juhu.
The day ended with a three to four km-long torch rally from Nanavati School in Vile Parle (west) to Mithibai College, which started at 8pm. Volunteers went around educating Mumbaiites about their cause, encouraging them to join in the agitation by switching off lights for an hour and shouting the slogan: “Thali bhajao, bati bujao.” Around 100 Mumbaiites joined the rally.
“We are glad residents are co-operating with us. We are requesting people switch off lights and join us with candles,” said IAC volunteer Yogesh Mandhani. “We are only executing our fundamental right and protesting in democratic way, but what government is doing is anti-democratic.”
“I switched off lights for one hour. That’s why we are outside on the streets,” said Rajesh Darak, 46, from Juhu Scheme.
Nitin Kilawala, an architect and Juhu resident, did not join in. “We didn’t switch off the lights because there was a function at home. I support Hazare’s cause, but switching off lights is symbolic and I would rather practise non-corruption,” he said.
Protesters claimed this was only pitch preparation. “We are laying the pitch for Tuesday’s campaign by informing more people about it through rallies,” said Ajay Malpani, an IAC volunteer from Girgaum.
On August 16, various IAC groups and citizens’ forums are expected to reach Azad Maidan by 1pm. “Volunteers will protest at their nearby railway stations in the morning and request people to join in the protest. By afternoon everybody will come to Azad Maidan,” said Praful Vora, IAC volunteer.