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Street outside Tihar simmers with protests, slogans

Last updated on: August 17, 2011 13:29 IST

Street outside Tihar simmers with protests

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The street outside Tihar Jail has become the protest capital for supporters of activist Anna Hazare, finds Prasanna D Zore

The protesters outside Tihar Jail are angry. But these men and women, who have gathered to protest the detention of activist Anna Hazare, are venting their ire against the powers that be peacefully. They are shouting anti-government, anti-politician and pro-Anna slogans to express their angst against the malice of corruption.

While Anna Hazare remains ensconced inside Tihar jail since his judicial remand on Tuesday evening, the street outside the prison starkly expresses what their leader stands for: the Jan Lokpal Bill and nothing else.

Will Anna's version of the Jan Lokpal Bill bring about a panacea for the issues ailing the nation?

"Do you think all these people protesting here are mad," retorts Srishti Sharma, 20, a student at Delhi University

She is convinced that once the Jan Lokpal Bill, as proposed by Anna and his team, becomes a law the nation will be rid of corruption.

Srishti's classmate Pushpanjali Singh admits that the Jan Lokpal Bill won't be "a magic wand", but points out, "It will surely be the first step towards weeding out corruption from the system".

Not only were the parents of these youngsters aware of their daughters' decision to join the protest outside Tihar Jail, they fully supported Srishti and Pushpanjali in this venture.


Image: Srishti Sharma and Pushpanjali Singh
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
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'I'll wear a shirt when Jan Lokpal Bill becomes a reality'

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Vishnukant, a 24-year-old youth from Gwalior, has taken a vow to remain half-naked since July 24.

"I shall wear a shirt only when the Jan Lokpal Bill becomes a reality," says this self-employed youth who owns a shop in Gwalior.

Vishnukant has been fasting since Anna was detained on Tuesday morning; he has not even drunk water in the last 24 hours.

"My body is giving way and in another two hours, I will pass out," he says before moving on to support other protesters outside Tihar.

Every few minutes, a fresh batch of protesters, mostly from small villages and towns around Delhi, join the swelling crowd to express their solidarity to Anna's cause.


Image: Vishnukant
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
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'I have come here to support Anna's cause'

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People break into impromptu gigs, songs and slogans as they march past a number of Tihar gates along the road. The police look on as mere spectators.

"I am in my uniform. It won't be proper on my part to express my views," said a policeman when queried about what he felt about Hazare's movement.

Mohit Kumar, 10, who studies in a nearby government school, is one of the protestors.

"I have come here to support Anna's cause. He is being jailed for protesting against mehengai (inflation)," he says.

Mohit and four of his friends have decided to camp outside Tihar at least till Wednesday evening.


Image: Mohit Kumar
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
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'I will join Hazare in his fast unto death'

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Babanrao Walunj, who has come from Pune's Manchar town, was arrested from JP Narayan Park on Tuesday and packed off to Chhatarsal stadium.

"We came by train to Delhi and were picked up by the police at about 10 am on Tuesday. We were let off at 5.30 pm," he says.

Today, he has come to Tihar to find out if Hazare will be released.

"I will join Hazare in his fast unto death if the police let him go; else we will continue to protest outside Tihar," Walunj says.

Volunteers from India Against Corruption, which has been at the forefront of Hazare's movement, keep on exhorting the crowd to ensure that their slogans are in parliamentarian language. They also urge Hazare's supporters against entering into any argument with the policemen deployed at the site.


Image: (Extreme right) Babanrao Walunj
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
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'This is a peaceful agitation against corruption'

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Protests are important but it is also important that lumpen elements don't sully this peaceful agitation against corruption," says Sagar Arora, a leader of the IAC.

"There are as many as 80 volunteers here like us to ensure that protesters don't misbehave," he says.

Meanwhile, groups of college students, school children, old men and women continue pouring into the street outside Tihar jail.

Here's a sample of some of their slogans:

Paisa, paisa karti hain, Lokpal se darti hai, woh sarkar nikammi hai, Sonia jiski mummy hai (The government is only concerned about money, it is scared of the Lokpal, it is an incompetent government with Sonia Gandhi as its mother)

Desh ka neta kaisa ho, Anna Hazare jaisa ho (Who should the nation's leader be like? Like Anna Hazare)

Desh ki beti kaisi ho, Kiran Bedi jaisi ho (Who should the nation's daughter be like? Like Kiran Bedi)


Image: Sagar Arora
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
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