As veteran anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare's fast-unto-death entered the third day at Jantar Mantar here on Thursday, people from varied political, economic and religious persuasions thronged the venue, united in the belief that this was their chance to rid the country of the corruption menace.
Mr. Hazare's supporters included teachers and students from Delhi schools, labourers and peasants from Muzaffarnagar, student activists from Delhi University, doctors, computer professionals, members of the Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union, insurance agents, sadhus and even a healthy sprinkling of well-to-do Delhiites.
Letters from organisations of traders, wrestlers, farmers and professional bodies across the country voicing their support for Mr. Hazare's campaign were read out to cheers from the assembled supporters.
The curious mix of citizens who reached the venue indicated to some extent the efficacy of Gandhian methods to transcend ideological and class barriers.
While speaker after speaker warned the government that it would be held responsible for any deaths among the 200-odd satyagrahis who had joined Mr. Hazare on his fast, three persons collapsed and had to be given medication.
An elderly person who fainted was taken to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, while a youngster who collapsed with hypoglycaemia, was convinced by Mr. Hazare to take medication despite his protestations. After he recovered, he went back to join the fast.
Between songs and the speeches that were well received, people could be seen jostling to catch a glimpse of Mr. Hazare and capture his photograph on their mobile phones. Strangers huddled together in groups engaged in animated conversation agreeing that the “establishment needed this shake-up.”
A representative of the Delhi Medical Association said doctors in the city would undertake a fast on Saturday with the slogan: “Corruption-free India is a healthy India.” A small girl held up a banner: “Sorry teacher, I will not be able to do my homework as I have to finish this first – Jan Lokpal Bill”.
At a corner of the Jantar Mantar Road, behind the shamiana that has spread out wider to provide shade from the April sun, Bihar-based Tabrez Alam was quietly painting Gandhiji spinning the charkha.
Among the prominent people who visited the venue included senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, film director Madhur Bhandarkar, and actor Raza Murad.