Anna's clarion call draws capacity crowd

  • Nivedita Khandekar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Apr 06, 2011 01:03 IST

"I have joined India's second freedom movement. Won't you?" screamed a slogan on the t-shirt Subhash Khare sported. Khare, 30, was present at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday, forming part of a sea of humanity that swelled in its support for the India Against Corruption campaign.

At the venue, surrounded by hundreds of supporters, social activist Anna Hazare, 73, embarked on a fast-unto-death, demanding a stringent anti-corruption bill.

Originally from Hyderabad, Khare, a technical consultant, said he had kept a day's fast to express solidarity with the cause. "I am sure Anna Hazare's fast-unto-death will sensitise the government about the gravity of the situation," Khare said.

His belief was shared by scores of others who had turned up in large numbers to support the mass movement spearheaded by civil society activists, including former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Swami Agnivesh and Magsaysay awardee Arvind Kejriwal.

Claiming that the draft bill proposed by the government is weak, the activists are demanding people's participation in drafting the stringent bill they have termed as 'Jan Lokpal Bill'.

"I will continue my fast till the government agrees to form a joint committee for preparing the draft anti-corruption bill," Hazare told a cheering crowd that stood in the April sun in solidarity. The supporters came from all walks of life. Professionals like engineers and lawyers, students and teachers, government and private sector employees, street vendors and rickshaw pullers, NGO activists and advocacy group members, housewives and retired persons.

Many of them came to express support; several observed a day's fast and some of them even joined Hazare in the fast-unto-death. Meher Singh, 65, from Kanjhawala village on the outskirts of the Capital, observed a day's fast. "There is no alternative to jan kranti (mass movement). There is corruption in every single field," Singh said.

There were people who had either heard about the campaign from a friend or received an SMS. Scores of others had come to know about it through social networking sites. "I regularly followed updates on Facebook. I have read the difference between the government's draft and the Jan Lokpal bill," said Saie Shetye, a student.

Sanjay Kumar Nigam, 28, who owns a mobile accessories shop said, "We came to support the movement. Corruption is eating into our lives."

By evening, it was clear that more than 150 people were observing the fast-unto-death with Hazare. After sunset, an all-religion prayer meet was held at the venue.


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