‘We have been sent here to get a sense of the second freedom struggle'
The protests at Ramlila Maidan which saw dwindling crowds after the end of the extended weekend attracted numerous school children away from their books and games on Tuesday.
The heavy rain in the afternoon did not deter seven-year-old Sushal and his elder brother Shubnam from heading towards the Maidan. “We live close by and our school is also very near, but we were told not to go to the Maidan…..Today we came here without informing anyone because we also want to support Anna,” said Shubnam, pointing nervously to the government school located opposite the Maidan entrance gates. “I hope none of the teachers sees us here.”
There were almost 30 school children milling around the sprawling ground in the same uniform and some claimed that they were sent by their teachers who wanted them to support the movement. “We have been sent here to get a sense of the second freedom struggle,” said 10-year-old Arman.
Class XII student Farzaan also skipped school to come to the Maidan along with his classmates. “We came here on Friday but our parents did not allow us to come here during weekend,” said Farzaan, adding that the atmosphere here was electric.
“It's any day better than sitting through some boring class,” added his classmate.
Some uniformed school children could be seen loitering around by themselves. “My teachers wouldn't let me come, so I just came here without informing them and I am here alone as I did not want to get anyone else into trouble,” said Saif, a Class X student, who has been busy signing “Support Anna” billboard and chatting up with students from other schools.
A serious group of Class VIII students from a school on Rani Jhansi Road could be seen discussing the merits of the Bill. “Everybody should come and support the cause,” said Ankush, the leader of the group. They had plans to skip school again on Wednesday to visit the Maidan.
There were also clusters of shabbily-dressed children, some in school uniforms. “I am Anna!” screamed Lalit, followed by “Bharat Mata ki Jai” from his friends Arjun and Ganesh, all Class VII students from a government school in Prem Nagar. They also skipped school and neither their parents nor their teachers had a clue about their presence at the Maidan.
“We came by metro rail ….we'll go back to school before the last period ends and then head home,” said Ganesh.
Some children, however, were at the Maidan with their parents' permission and minus school uniform. “My father also supports Anna Hazare and he had no problem with me taking a day off from school to come here,” said Ajit Singh.
His three friends also had permission from their parents.
“This is a historic moment, we cannot be sitting in class when so much is happening,” said Harvinder, who along with Ajit Singh has been sampling the free food being distributed at the Maidan.
There were some children who were inspired by the discussions they overheard from their parents and decided to brave the damp weather and show their support.
“Every evening they watch TV and keep arguing; we just had to come and participate at least one day,” said Puneet, a Class X student, who had brought along his five-year-old brother, who happened to injure himself at the Maidan where the damp soil and rain-water puddles made him slip and fall.
“It was difficult enough getting in, now I am nervous about the way back,” he said.