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Support swells for team as Hazare joins fast

Support swelled for Team Anna's anti-graft agitation at Jantar Mantar, as Anna Hazare joined the indefinite fast today – the fifth day of the protest.

delhi Updated: Jul 30, 2012 02:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Team Anna,Jantar Mantar,Anna Hazare

Support swelled for Team Anna's anti-graft agitation at Jantar Mantar, as Anna Hazare joined the indefinite fast on Sunday – the fifth day of the protest.

In stark contrast to the past four days when the attendance at the fast venue was poor, as many as 7000-8000 were present with the Team Anna and over 350 joined the fast.

Team Anna appealed to people across the country, especially students to 'give one week for the nation' and join the agitation.

Reaching the venue, Hazare declared his intention to fast "with the permission of Team Anna members" – Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai – who have been fasting since July 25. India Against Corruption (IAC) has been demanding independent investigation into corruption allegations against Union ministers and a strong Lokpal.

Hazare also launched a book 'Swaraj' by Kejriwal. "This (the book) shows how systemic change is needed to bring in real Swaraj (independence) for our country," he said.

Kejriwal appealed to people, especially the student community to bunk their classes and said, "Invest this week for a better future … your's and the country's." An estimated 7,000-8,000 persons visited the spot but Delhi Police maintained the gathering never crossed 5,000.

Himani Kundra, a housewife from Gurgaon who had come with her husband and son, said: "For Lokpal to be a reality, it depends on how much we support."

Noida's Shreedhar Natrajan and Dheeraj Khanna, both software professionals, said they could not come earlier because of work. "Today we are here as corruption impacts all government offices. Scams such as 2G agitate us," Shreedhar said.

Even as urban supporters increased, rural masses were not missing. Phoolwati Jakhad and Saroj Gill, both from Dhingsara village in Haryana's Fatehabad district stood holding placard. "Our sarpanch is trying to grab village's common land. We want to draw attention to this."

Students were eager about Team Anna's appeal to skip classes. Said Aditya Shrivastava, a student of Shyamlal College, "My sisters and I studied in government schools as our father was strictly against donations in private schools. We identify with the cause so we are here."

Will they skip classes? His sister Priyanka, a student of Daulatram College, said: "I will try to come here."

In the evening, Anna supporters took out a huge rally from India Gate to Jantar Mantar.

Police caution Team Anna

A day after Anna Hazare supporters protested outside Prime Minister's 7 Race Course Road residence, the Delhi Police served a notice to the organisers of the fast at Jantar Mantar.

In the notice served to Neeraj, a member of India Against Corruption (IAC), on Sunday, the Delhi Police requested them to follow the guidelines mentioned in the undertaking they had signed before taking permission for their dharna.

They have been requested to ensure that speakers at the protest do not make any provocative speeches, the police said. "They had given an undertaking that they would hold their protest only at Jantar Mantar. Protesters marching towards PM's residence was a serious violation of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court," said a senior police officer.

Asked if the police plans to cancel the permission as the crowd at the site has exceeded 5,000, the officer said as per their report it did not exceed the permissible number.

First Published: Jul 29, 2012 23:54 IST