Responding to social activist Anna Hazare’s call to fill jails as part of his campaign against corruption and demand for a strong Lokpal Bill, his supporters on Tuesday courted arrests in Mumbai, while protests against his detention gathered momentum across Maharashtra.
Thousands of supporters of Hazare, gathered at Azad Maidan in the metropolis, are all set for ‘Jail Bharo’ after his detention by Delhi police early this morning.
“Around 50 to 70 people will fill up jails every half-and-hour. We would start this from 2 pm with women supporters, followed by youth and then the rest,” Mayank Gandhi, Mumbai unit in-charge of India Against Corruption (IAC) told PTI.
Social activist Medha Patkar led the protests at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.
“We had expected that Anna Hazare would be detained, but had not thought that it would happen so soon. After Baba Ramdev’s incident, we expected something similar. The government can go to any level to curb our protest against corruption,” Mr. Gandhi said.
Hazare was detained this morning by the police in Delhi as he was about to set out for his fast in support of the Lokpal Bill.
In Nagpur, a large number of people including activists Umesh Choube and noted economist Srinivas Khandewale courted arrest extending support to Hazare’s call for a effective Lokpal Bill.
Sporting ‘Gandhi’ caps with slogans ‘I am Anna’ supporters gathered at the Reserve Bank of India Square in Civil Lines on busy Nagpur-Jabalpur national highway.
A good number of women and college students in their uniforms sporting badges were present at the RBI square.
In Pune, supporters of Hazare gathered at a square in the city to condemn the police action and his detention in Delhi this morning.
Carrying placards, scores of people raised slogans at Balgandharva square, supporting Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign and condemning the government for “anti-democratic” measures.
In Nashik, a mainstreet rally was taken out in protest of Hazare’s detention in which several social workers, freedom fighters, youth and prominent personalities participated amid tight police bandobast.
The rally culminated in a public meeting in front of the District Collectorate here, where police resorted to mild cane charge to disperse agitating people in view to clear vehicular traffic, which was blocked on MG road and the Mumbai-Agra National Highway at Pimpalgaon Baswant near here.
Wearing white Gandhi caps with white papers stuck around their necks with ‘arrest me’ written all over, people shouted anti-government slogans and alleged that government is suppressing Hazare’s agitation.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party of India (RPI) has extended support to Hazare’s movement against corruption, party leader Ramdas Athawale said in Mumbai today.
RPI workers will be joining Hazare’s supporters with blue flags all over Maharashtra and support the jail bharo andolan, Mr. Athawale said.