From senior citizens, businessmen to youth, all make a beeline for Ramlila Maidan
The fast by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare is on its seventh day, but there is no let-up in enthusiasm among his supporters who turned up in large numbers on Monday, converting the sprawling Ramlila Maidan here into a sea of humanity.
The crowds, which have been swelling by the day, spilled on the streets by evening and could be seen almost a kilometre away, with groups of men on two-wheelers, holding the tricolour and shouting slogans at the top of their voice, headed for the venue till late at night.
Rajeev and his 20 software engineer friends have been part of the protest for the past five days and their enthusiasm has only increased with each passing day. “At first, we just looked around observing the people; from the second day onwards we joined in and since then we have been coining slogans and guiding the people around,” said Rajeev.
There was another group of software engineers from Ghaziabad, sporting matching T-shirts and caps that had Bharat Mata ki Jai written on them against the backdrop of the tricolour. The group had come in April also to support the movement. “We know everything about the [Jan Lokpal] Bill and will continue coming here until it is passed by Parliament,” said Vivek, leader of the group.
Dhavi and her banker colleague come to the Maidan whenever they find free time. “We will keep coming, we're not squeamish about the crowds or anything, we will support Anna as long as we can,” she said.
Seventy-five-year-old diabetic P.S. Dhanu has been quiet, patiently waiting in line, eating bananas being distributed by volunteers. “I have been coming here since Day One, I am for the cause and will continue coming here till the end, I am so happy to see young, enthusiastic people here. I used to think this generation was very cynical … all this has taught me that I was wrong,” he said, beaming at the young people around him.
Another senior citizen, J.B. Singh, is equally enthusiastic. “I had everything, I have lived my life, I have retired, I have nothing to do except protest for a good cause.”
Ramdas Singh, who has come with his farmer-brother from a Bihar village, is camping on the Maidan. “I am going to the railway station to receive more people from my village,” he said, adding he was fed up with the corrupt system. “I may come from a village but I am no fool. I know corruption would not just end if Anna is not successful, but I have to contribute something to the cause, so I came here.”
Ramdas' brother said: “I will not go back unless I see this through ... unless Anna is successful,” he said.
Subash Patel, a lecturer from Maharashtra, echoes similar sentiments. “I am not catching the train back home, I am going to come here every day and sit here and shout slogans … whatever it takes to eradicate the menace of corruption.”
Monday being a public holiday contributed in some part to the turnout. Sanjay Chowdry, a technical engineer for whom the protest was a phenomenon on TV until he visited the Maidan, said: “I wanted to come before but I could not find time. I want to come again and lend my support.”
Accountant Joginder also made use of the holiday. “I came to see for myself what I have been seeing on TV every day … the enthusiasm is contagious.”
Vijay Sharma has closed down his wire business temporarily to join the protests. “I hope to support Anna as long as the circumstances allow me,” he said, distributing bananas to the people waiting in line.