'Anna alive or not, don't put out this torch'
Anna Hazare on Friday launched his protest fast at the historic Ramlila Maidan giving indications that it will be a prolonged one when he declared that he will not quit the venue till the Jan Lokpal bill is brought.
"We will not leave this ground till the Jan Lokpal Bill is brought," he declared from Ramlila Maidan, the venue of his campaign, after he came out of Tihar Jail and made a three-hour drive from the prison where he spent three nights.
On the fourth day of his fast, the 73-year-old Gandhian looked totally fit when he ran a short distance in Rajghat to escape from rain though he had lost three kg of weight since Tuesday. He came out of the jail this morning after reaching an agreement with government for holding his hunger strike for 15 days.
Both outside Tihar Jail and at Ramlila Maidan, he made a brief address to his supporters in which he said that the second freedom struggle has started for liberating India from corruption.
"There was a revolution in 1942 because of which the British had to quit India. But the loot and rowdyism have not stopped. That is why the second freedom struggle has begun."Do not allow this torch of struggle to be put out whether Anna is alive or not," he told the cheering crowd at the spacious Ramlila Maidan.
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Image: Anna Hazare (C, wearing white cap) waves from a vehicle after he left Tihar jail in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
'You can sever my head but you cannot make me bow'
After refusing to come out of Tihar Jail despite unconditional release on Tuesday and some hard bargaining, he extracted from authorities permission to hold his protest for 15 days from the 25,000 capacity ground instead of J P Park.
Police had initially given permission to Hazare to hold the fast for three days from August 16 in JP Park with a crowd restriction of 5,000.
Earlier in the day, Hazare's associate Arvind Kejriwal said the protest would go beyond 15 days depending on how the government responds.
Team Hazare has been campaigning for adoption of its Jan Lokpal that will cover Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament besides other provisions.
In a message that he would not make any compromise in his camapign, Hazare said, "you can sever my head but you cannot make me bow."
The anti-corruption crusader said people's struggle have taken a violent turn in many countries but the fight here has not turned violent. "Our protest is non-violent and the whole world will get inspiration from it," he said.
Image: Supporters cheer Anna Hazare
'The youth of the country is my strength; they have just woken up'
"We will have to think how to ensure justice to the poor people of the country," he said adding youth power is his main strength.
"The youth of the country is my strength and they have just woken up," he said adding his fight is not over till corruption in eliminated from the country.
After he came out of the Jail where he made a brief address, Hazare got into an improvised truck and led a procession for a short distance.
Hundreds of people greeted him with garlands and flowers which he accepted with folded hands and waved intermittently to his supporters gathered either side of the road.
From Mayapuri in west Delhi, he drove straight to Rajghat where he paid obeisance to Mahatma Gandhi before heading to Ramlila Maidan.
Escorted by police officials, Hazare came out and mounted a small podium erected just outside one of the gates of the prison that was his home for over 67 hours.