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Anna's message to folks back home

Last updated on: August 25, 2011 21:31 IST

'Anna now belongs to the nation and the world'

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Prasanna D Zore in Ralegan Siddhi

Anna no more belongs to just Ralegan Siddhi, but to the nation and the world, say villagers of Ralegan Siddhi. Prasanna D Zore reports. 

For decades villagers of Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district have been venerating Kisan Baburao Hazare, lovingly called Anna.

Reason: His selflessness and sacrifice for the denizens of this village which today is referred to as an ideal village. But this veneration has now assumed a titanic scale.

"Anna no more belongs to just Ralegan Siddhi," says Nandu Mapari, a class XII student from Ralegan. "He belongs to the nation and the world," says Nandu echoing the sentiments of other villagers.

Though they have not been seeing much of their beloved Anna ever since he shot into the limelight after his first fast at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, villagers, a couple of hundreds, have been camping in front of the Yadav Baba Temple through the day, which makes up for Anna's home.

Since August - when Hazare was arrested by the Delhi police and his subsequent indefinite fast in Delhi's Ramlila Maidan - they have been glued to the community television set inside the Yadav Baba Temple. The 74-year-old frail Gandhian even manages to addresses them once every few days.

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Image: People gather outside Yadav Baba Temple in Ralegan Siddhi, Anna's home

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'I am doing this for the people of this nation'

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"Today, we requested him earnestly to continue his agitation but withdraw his indefinite fast in the wake of his worsening health situation. We told him to stop his fast for the sake of the feelings of the people of Ralegan Siddhi," said Jaysingh Mapari, the village head of Ralegan Siddhi, who too has been fasting since August 23. This morning the doctors asked him to get admitted as his urine reports indicated high levels of ketones.

"Anna told us that he not only belongs to Ralegan Siddhi but also to millions of poor and powerless in India who are exploited by a corrupt system. I am doing this for the people of this nation," Anna told Mapari this morning according to the village head.

Mapari said that Anna asked them not to worry about his health and continue with their peaceful agitation.

"He told us to agitate by taking out prabhat pheris (morning procession), through candlelight vigils and door-to-door campaigns to create awareness about what the Jan Lokpal Bill is about and how it will benefit the powerless people of this country," says Mapari, who along with 17 other men and women of Ralegan Siddhi are sitting on a relay fast.

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Image: Sarpanch Jaysingh Mapari addresses the villagers of Ralegan Siddhi
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore
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'We'll court arrest if Anna's demands are not met'

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"We don't call Anna," he says. One of our brothers who are with Anna calls us when Anna is not addressing the people or resting. Then he hands over the phone to Anna. We then keep the phone in front of a microphone and let the whole village hear what Anna has to say to us," says Mapari.

"Anna azoba (grandfather) sounded very fit when he spoke to us this morning," says seven-year-old Radha Gune when asked to describe Anna's health. 

"I am very happy he talks to us whenever he has the time," Radha adds.

"As per Anna's instructions we have been carrying out our agitation in a very peaceful and non-violent way," says Mapari, who during Anna's Jantar Mantar agitation had threatened self-immolations in Ralegan Siddhi if the government didn't accept Anna's demands.

"Anna told us yesterday how pained he was by the self-immolation of a Bihar farmer in Delhi to register his protest against the non-acceptance of the Jan Lokpal Bill," says Mapari.

"We don't want to hurt him at all. But we will start a jail bharo andolan (court arrests) if they forcibly evicts Anna from Ramlila Ground or don't accept his demands by tomorrow," he says.

Very soon after that Mapari holds the microphone in his hands and exhorts the assembled villagers to start a jail bharo andolan from August 26.


Image: Radha Gune, one of many Anna Hazare's supporters
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore
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