Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Anna Hazare Began His Three-day Hunger Strike
The anti-corruption movement leader and social activist Anna Hazare began his three-day hunger strike on Tuesday demanding a stronger version of the ombudsman (Lokpal) bill than the one being debated by Parliament.
The veteran activist reached Juhu beach, an hour late at 10 am and meditated in front of a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi. A decorated truck then ferried Anna from Juhu to MMRDA grounds. At the Ramada Inn hotel, Anna saluted Chatrapati Shivaji's statue on the way while waving out to the crowds.
Compared to the last rally held during the second August Kranti movement, only 20 percent of the crowd turned up at Juhu beach on Tuesday. Anna supporters' in Mira-Bhayander and Vasai-Virar regions reached MMRDA grounds to show their support.
Hazare, who is suffering from a viral infection, arrived at the fast venue along with his close aides Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia to a thunderous applause and slogans of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Vande Matram'.
Hazare began his fast shouting slogans of 'Vande Matram' and 'inqilab zindabad'.
However, there was high drama on way as around 20 men blocked his convoy and showed him black flags. The convoy of Hazare, on way to Mahatma Gandhi's statue on Juhu beach, was briefly stopped by the protesters carrying black flags and national tricolour and shouting "Anna Hazare murdabad".
The day at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi started with a trickle of Anna supporters making their way into the grounds. While the morning crowd stood at close to 1000-1200 odd people, the crowd is expected to increase by afternoon.
Meanwhile, 79-year-old Gopal Rai from Ghaziabad sat at the grounds, steadily working on his charkha (cotton-weaving machine). "I have not left my charkha for a single day since I was 10 years old and it reminds me how to overcome poverty. We need to stand up for what we believe in and we must be united to fight against corruption," explained the retired government employee.
Amid patriotic songs, the crowd broke into impromptu dancing and singing, giving a festive touch to the morning at the grounds.
Team Anna has raised the pitch by pointing out "four non-negotiable" demands for calling off their jail bharo agitation which included provision for an independent investigating agency for the anti-corruption ombudsman.