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Support grows for Anna in UK

world Updated: Aug 18, 2011 01:06 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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Thousands of kilometres away from India, a Team Anna battalion of Britain-based NRIs has been holding its own protests in central London.

In fact, as of press time, there should be a member of the team sitting right outside the well-guarded front door of the Indian High Commission in Aldwych. And there is no question of anybody removing the protester.

"We offered him a cup of tea, but he appears to be on a fast," a spokesman for the High Commission said on Wednesday. "The gentleman refused it and there the matter ended."

Across Britain, small groups of NRIs, most of them recent immigrants working as professionals, have been gathering in towns and cities. Everyone wears the popular Anna cap.

It all started on August 14 when the organisers sent no more than a single email to announce a protest gathering. But they were surprised when 120 supporters turned up at the High Commission.

"That was pretty good for a Sunday," said organiser Rajesh Redij Gill, who came to Britain around 14 year ago. "We have now taken police permission for the next five days because we just don't know what's going to happen in India."

Last week, while a demoralised Team India was being hammered by England at Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham, this rather different team - Indians Against Corruption-Great Britain - was winning the hearts of curious spectators, some of them evening joining the protest.

They handed out a few hundred cloth caps, emblazoned with the Jan Lokpal logo and shipped over from Mumbai.

"We knew that if there were enough caps in the crowd, the TV cameras would get interested," said Redij Gill.

He was right, and the movement has now spread to Manchester, Newcastle, Leicester and Luton.

There is a second group of crusaders, most of them Gujarati-speaking, who came over from east Africa.

Gill said IAC-GB is determined to distance itself from all religious and political groups.

"Someone called up from the British wing of a political party. We said you're welcome but just leave your politics outside."