Anna Hazare's supporters give police and organisers little to complain about
The battleground of the crusade against corruption a learning ground too for discipline and collaboration.
Ramlila Maidan, where activist Anna Hazare continues his fast, is probably one of the rare places in the country today where people are willing to stand in queue and patiently wait their turn.
On Saturday, as Anna's fast entered the fifth day, people turned up in droves, curbing their instincts to jostle and jump the serpentine queues. Standing in the blistering heat, they kept the morale up by raising slogans, but gave the police and the organisers little to complain about as they were ushered in and frisked.
Inside the ground, volunteers were busy cleaning the place, serving food and water, helping supporters find a place, answer queries on the Jan Lokpal Bill. On the peripheries of the “maidan,” doctors attended to the unwell.
“It is indeed a rare sight. Where do you see such regulation without a danda [stick] these days? People are willing to cooperate. Yes, there have been complaints of some mischievous elements creating a nuisance, but those have been too few and far in between,” said a volunteer of India Against Corruption.
Periodically requests were made on the public address system, urging the visitors not to litter the “karmbhoomi” (place where one works) and cooperate with the volunteers. Anna's supporters are learning. “The one thing that we need to learn from Anna is discipline. Have you ever seen a place where people willingly stand in a queue? Look around today and you will see how everyone is trying to fall in line. Our society lacks discipline and if each one of us and our leaders become more disciplined, things will gradually fall into place,” said Rahul, an IT professional who came with this wife to show solidarity.
At the free kitchen, where the queues again were long and winding, there has not been a moment of rest; food is served without a pause. “We are not even keeping track of how many are eating. Till there is food, it will be served,” said a volunteer at the kitchen, who also runs a food service during the Amarnath Yatra.
From morning till late afternoon, five quintals of rice had been consumed. “People are donating whatever they can, we are providing what we can, it is an ongoing process and we don't even want to keep count of what is being consumed,” he said.
Dr. Kamal from Jodhpur has been sitting under a canopy handing out medicines, checking people for ailments. “Since morning, 15 people have been sent off to hospital because their condition was serious, otherwise we are equipped to deal with dehydration and the minor cuts and bruises that are the common complaints,” he said. The medicines have again come from voluntary donations and arranged for by the doctors themselves.
There are, however, reasons to complain too. While some women have had to deal with unwanted attention from the anti-social elements, a large number of people are unhappy with the inadequate arrangements for sanitation. “There is a huge problem of clean toilets. For those of us who are staying here for longer periods, and for women and children in particular, it is definitely a put off. But when you see a 70 plus person sitting in the sun, hungry, you can complain only so much,” said Sanjay Dhiman, a mechanical engineer from Hardwar.