The Tihar Central Jail here, a facility for reformation of hundreds of convicts, has become the epicentre of a national awakening on the issue of corruption with Anna Hazare's indefinite fast for a strong Lokpal Bill.
The Anna effect could be seen even on the inmates, many of whom were seen shouting pro-Anna slogans while being taken away to courts in police vehicles in the morning. There were also rumours that some inmates had joined the fast, but jail officials denied it.
“It is sad that Anna, who has been fighting corruption in the system for the past several years, was arrested by the police on frivolous grounds. However, that did not deter him and he chose to remain inside jail and continue with his fast. I hope his presence has a positive impact on the criminals lodged in the jail,” said Prakash Chaudhary, a chartered accountancy student.
Jail officials said Anna had been kept in the administrative block of the prison compound and had at no point interacted with any of the inmates.
Anna's call for a crusade against corruption and the swelling mass of supporters seems to have had an effect on many policemen deployed outside the jail as well. Several of them were spotted avidly reading the pamphlets that had detailed the differences in the Jan Lokpal Bill and the government's Lokpal Bill. The leaflets were being distributed by India Against Corruption volunteers as part of their awareness drive.
“I never expected one person to draw such massive support across the country. Undoubtedly, the issues that Anna has raised affects all sections of society. People are supporting him because he has stood up for their cause and he has done that several times in the past,” said a policeman, who requested anonymity.
Although several policemen keenly listened to the intense discussions among Anna's supporters, they refrained from voicing their opinion. There were also some who doubted if the campaign would eventually bring about a change in the system. “How long will it last? Many people, especially school children, have joined in just for some fun,” said one of them, complaining that the police were bearing the brunt.