A large number of farmers from neighbouring States join the protesters at Ramlila Maidan
Supporters of Anna Hazare, camping at the Ramlila Maidan here for the past few days hoping that the mass mobilisation would lead to introduction of a strong Lokpal Bill in Parliament, appeared rather apprehensive about the Government's sincerity on Wednesday.
Though the crowd had started dwindling since Tuesday, a noticeable feature on the ninth day of Anna's fast was the presence of a large number of farmers from the neighbouring States. Sixty-year-old Kartara Singh reached Ramlila Maidan with hundreds of fellow villagers from Kaithal in Haryana in the morning. “We are farmers and have come here to support Anna in his fight against corruption. People from the Rohilla community have also come here with us in ten buses,” he said.
While 78-year-old Anand Swaroop Data, a farmer from Rewari in Haryana, sounded sceptical about the Government's intentions despite such a massive support for Anna, a lecturer from neighbouring Faridabad, Aruna, said: “The authorities will eventually have to give in. If that does not happen, the protests will intensify and it would then become difficult for the Government to control.”
Jagdish, a resident of Pratapgarh, said a large number of villagers from UP had also joined the protest on Wednesday.
Earlier on Tuesday Bharatiya Kisan Union president Rakesh Tikait, son of leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, had come to Ramlila Maidan and called upon farmers from the neighbouring States to join the protest. “Farmers came in large numbers on Wednesday to support Anna,” said an India Against Corruption representative.
‘Cleanse the system'
Members of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, who have been supporting Anna's crusade against corruption, could also be seen in large numbers. “Rampant nepotism and other malpractices are forms of corruption. We urgently need to take steps to cleanse the system. As Anna pointed out, today a child is born with a debt of Rs.25,000 on his head. We have to pay donations for their admissions even in playschools. Besides, people in defence forces also come from the same society and we do not want them to be corrupt. We will fight till we achieve our objective,” said retired warrant officer P.R. Balathilakan.
The Delhi unit of the National Ex-Servicemen Coordination Committee has also extended its support. “Our members have been going to Ramlila Maidan everyday since August 16. We request Rahul Gandhi to solve this issue,” said Ram Kumar, general secretary of the Committee.
With Anna's health deteriorating, his supporters also appeared to be losing patience. “The Government is not showing any sincerity in its intentions,” said Rajen Makhijani, an IIM-Calcutta graduate working in Singapore, who has taken a break from work to participate in the movement. “The proposed Bill has not simply been drafted by just a few persons and what we presently see is the 14th version after consultations with a large number of people. We have been waiting 42 years for this law, we cannot wait anymore,” he said.
His IIM batch-mate Ritu nodded in agreement.
Post-graduate management students Sourav Mittal and Anuchin said in case the Government could not introduce the Bill in the monsoon session, a special Parliamentary session should be called. “If they want to bring in an effective law, they should act promptly,” said Sourav.