Supporters of social activist Anna Hazare on Saturday celebrated the end of his fast, smearing gulal on each other's face and dancing.
A large crowd had gathered at Jantar Mantar very early in the day. A number of leaders from religious and social organisations tried to address the protesters but were prevented by volunteers who insisted that Mr. Hazare stick to the 10 a.m. deadline he had set on Friday to break his fast.
Attempts by the “India Against Corruption” volunteers to regulate the crowd failed once again on Saturday, as the venue was packed with people, who were uncontrollable. Finally, a request to people who were standing in the front to either kneel or sit down was heeded, ensuring that people in the rear did not surge anymore.Echoing Mr. Hazare's call that the struggles would have to continue, the crowd kept chanting: “Yeh to bas angdai hai, baaki abhi ladai hai” (This is just the beginning, the battle lies ahead).
Following Mr. Hazare's address, which lasted a little over 10 minutes, began the celebrations. People could be seen congratulating one another and surging towards the stage in order to greet Mr. Hazare and offer him flowers.
The volunteers had formed a ring round the stage. Murmurs of disapproval were heard when one of the satyagrahis voiced a suggestion that a political committee bigger than the core group comprising his close lieutenants be formed so as to chalk out a plan of action.
The volunteers struggled to restrain a protester incensed at this suggestion. “There are several people here with political ambitions. Only Anna should decide everything,” he was heard shouting.
The Asmitha theatre group, which had been performing street plays on all days of the fast to a tremendous response from the public, was in action on Saturday too. Mr. Hazare's auto-biography “My Village…My Place of Pilgrimage” registered good sales, with several hundred copies being sold. The day's protest-related activities culminated in a candlelight vigil at India Gate.