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'Gandhiji would not have approved'

Last updated on: August 25, 2011 16:03 IST

'Gandhiji would not have approved'

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Toral Varia in New Delhi

The Ramlila Maidan becomes a safe haven for eve-teasers and late night revelers, reports Toral Varia from the epi-centre of the Lokpal Bill campaign.

"Anna tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai!"

"Bharat Mata ki jai ho!"

"Anna is India, India is Anna!"

And then there are slogans like--

"Baarah rupiye ki Pepsi, Sonia Gandhi sexy!"

"Desh ka kutta kaisa ho, Kapil Sibal jaisa ho!"

"Rahul Gandhi Bhagauda hai"... and so forth.

There are those who genuinely believe in the fight against corruption and then there are those who could care less about the cause and just want to be a part of the crowd.

If the scenes at New Delhi's Ramlila Maidan during the daytime are patriotic and full of passion, the images during the night are disappointing.

While in any kind of gathering it is inevitable that there would be some rowdy elements, the issue of unruly and drunken crowds at the Ramlila Maidan is increasingly becoming a cause of concern.

From a television journalist being brutally beaten up by drunken boys sporting the India flag and the 'Main Hoon Anna' Gandhi cap, to a young woman being chased by drunken boys on a motorbike to cheap slogan and lewd comments, the Ramlila maidan becomes a safe haven for eve-teasers and late night revelers.

Please click NEXT for Toral Varia's impressions.


Image: Protestors at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
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'Anna ke naam pe sab chalega'

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Concerned over the increasing reports of unruly behaviour, Anna Hazare -- who has banned alcohol and drinking at his Ralegan Siddhi commune in Maharashtra -- was forced to say, "If you want to get drunk and come here and indulge in fun, then don't come here."

"Anna ke saath hain hum, Anna ke naam pe sab chalega (We are with Anna; we can do anything)," says engineering student J Singh who was busy chanting cheap slogans like the ones mentioned in the previous slide along with two of his friends.

Rajesh Ahuja, a businessman from Noida, has a question: "This is not an anti- government rally, this is an anti-corruption rally. Why chant cheap slogans targeting personalities?"

In one corner just near the entry gate for journalists, groups of young school-going boys are seen dancing to the tune of drums. Several drunken men, young and old, are seen inside the Ramlila Maidan pushing through the crowds causing inconvenience to the genuine protestors.

Ram Singh, who has traveled from Rajasthan to contribute to this campaign, is disappointed, "This is not what Gandhiji would have approved. This is not what Anna would approve. Young boys can get drunk by all means, but why should they come here and create a ruckus?"

A group of old men, who have travelled from the neighbouring state of Haryana, believe that today's Indian youth does not know the meaning of the freedom struggle. Says Harkisan Bhagwani, "I have seen the freedom struggle for India, this is India's second freedom struggle. These young men have got everything easily and they feel that this is how it works."

Please click NEXT for Toral Varia's impressions.


Image: Young men dance at the Ramlila Maidan; photograph only used for representational purposes
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
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'When I dress like this and shout slogans, people pay attention'

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A lady television reporter recounts an incident when two drunken youngsters had to be forcibly taken away from the media enclosure.

"They just jumped over the barricade making us all uncomfortable," she says. News television channels have imposed an unofficial rule of sorts to withdraw women reporters on late evening and night shift from Ramlila Maidan.

For scores of youngsters the combination of large crowds, India flags with Anna Hazare addressing the gathering becomes a perfect background for photo-ops.

A group of students from a college across the street takes pictures with a huge Indian flag because "It is memorable. We will keep it for posterity and upload it on Facebook. I would love to share pictures of my participation with my friend," says Akshay Rajput.

For some this is a chance to sport different outfits. You will see several people dressed as Gandhiji, Hanuman, Ravana, a dacoit etc.

Mansingh Rewat who is dressed like a dacoit, says, "This get-up is just an excuse. When I dress like this and shout pro-Anna or anti-corruption slogans, people pay attention. I can then spread the message of anti-corruption further."

According to Shekhar Singh, a member of the National Campaign for the People's Right to Information, "In any protest or campaign it is not possible to fully monitor the crowds. Every gathering has its share of problematic individuals. It is sad that such a thing is happening, but I guess that is where the police steps in. However, it is notable that the protest so far has been violence free."


Image: A man dressed for the occasion at the Ramlila Maidan
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
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