Wearing a khadi jacket over her pink salwar kameez, Urmila Lunvare, 39, doesn’t miss the irony of fasting against corruption in the shadows of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation building across the road.
On Friday, Lunvare, a civic schoolteacher, sat on a makeshift stage at Azad Maidan with others to support activist Anna Hazare, who is on an indefinite fast for a stronger anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill.
“Instead of struggling to breathe in this muck around us, I would rather die fighting for something that could possibly stop corruption,” she said.
Lunvare, too, began her fast on April 5, when Hazare started his fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, but did not stop going to school.
Though she took casual leaves on Thursday and Friday to join others at Azad Maidan, she will get back to her job on Saturday. “My work shouldn’t be affected because of my fast. I don’t want to miss my work,” she said.
When asked why was fighting against corruption in the municipal corporation, which is her employer, Lunvare replied: “When I was recruited as a schoolteacher for Rs 2,500 a month, they were demanding Rs 50,000 to secure the job. I decided that I will not pay a paisa for the job, and thankfully, I got in.”
Lying next to Lunvare on the makeshift stage is 49-year-old Anupam Padaya. A maintenance engineer with an airline, Padaya had exposed how non-licensed staff were made to work on the maintenance of the airline’s Boeing 747 aircraft. “Such negligence on their part was endangering lives. But, instead of taking note of it, my seniors suspended me for complaining.” That was in 2004.
“It’s been seven years and I continue to fight for my job,” said Padaya, who lives in Santacruz. Padaya believes that there’s no stopping him from continuing with the fast. “Even my father is a Gandhian. What better way to pay a tribute to Gandhi than by following his methods to fight an enemy like corruption?”