Thought of missing something historic was too difficult for them to resist

Supporters of anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare at Ramlila Maidan are as different from each other as chalk from cheese; hailing as they do from different parts of the country. But the differences in dialect, dress and manner notwithstanding, at the core of their heart is only the well-being and welfare of the country.

The Maidan has become a melting pot of cultures. Here, one can find a retired railway official from Lucknow and a labourer from Bihar sitting next to each other, listening in rapt attention.

Eighteen-year-old Satyat Prakash Kumar loves watching the news in his village in Bihar. “I saw Anna on television again and again, and I just had to come,” he said, adding his brother, a construction labourer who lives in the city, refused to accompany him. “I am here at 9 a.m. and leave only after 10 p.m. …it is my day-time job,” he grins, distributing pamphlets he has made about Mr. Hazare.

Another out-of-towner Bilat Bandhu, or ‘cycle baba' as he calls himself, has come along with his bicycle, “I have travelled all over the country — from Kanyakumari to Kashmir — on my cycle. I am from Nepal and Bihar — I consider both places my native land,” he says. Stating he hasn't paid for a meal in 10 years, he adds: “People have always willingly given me food and water. I don't care if they don't let me sleep in the Maidan. I will just sleep on the pavement…I am a vagabond. My only possession is my bicycle.”

Best friends and traders Dinesh Bhardwaj (from Gurgaon) and Pradeep Yadav (from a Haryana village) have come together. They have plans to mobilise people from their village to come and support Mr. Hazare. “We have told them to come from Tuesday onwards when office-goers are back in office. We will also be able to arrange accommodation for them by then,” they said.

There is also a group of young men from Rajasthan, who had been watching the news daily and simply could not resist the temptation of being in the heart of the action. “We felt we were missing out on something historic. We just needed to be in the Capital than at home, arguing endlessly on the merits and de-merits of the fast. We rushed here because we were afraid the protest might be over soon,” they said.

People from the Southern States have also started reaching the venue. Some Telugu-speaking men on holiday in Delhi said: “We were supposed to go sight-seeing today [on Saturday] ...but people back home will laugh at us if we miss this while in Delhi,” they said, adding their angry tour-guide refused to accompany them. “He is sitting grumpily in the bus,” they laughed.


Ramlila Maidan becomes a learning ground tooAugust 21, 2011

More In: Delhi