Thousands pour in as protest enters eighth day
Even as the protest at Freedom Park entered its eighth day, support to the anti-corruption movement remained unabated in the city, with an estimated 15,000 people coming to the ground on Tuesday.
Unions and organisations have been coming in droves to support the protests — from a union of Rajajinagar chemists to a lorry drivers' association to private builders unfurling banners at the protest site.
The buoyant spirits and optimism of those gathered have largely been due to enthusiastic volunteers and some enterprising supporters. One such ardent supporter is Prakash G. Sachdev, who has been in Freedom Park since the protest started.
The 62-year-old healer, preferring to call himself a “free sevak ”, energetically makes his way through the crowd and encourages those he thinks are too quiet during the protest. “I feel the vibrations of the youth, and I encourage them to spread their message,” he said cryptically.
Over a 100 people sat by the dais after they pledged to go on a daylong hunger strike, while around 20 continued with their ‘indefinite' hunger fast since August 16. There is some ambiguity about the exact numbers of those fasting indefinitely as a few, including Mr. Sachdev, have been taking ‘breaks' from their fast.
However, on Tuesday afternoon, a 23-year-old man was hospitalised after he fell unconscious and suffered from convulsions. “The man had been fasting for the past seven days and probably suffered from low blood sugar,” said the paramedic who attended to him.
Meanwhile, prominent personalities urging the gathering for their support included the former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, Deccan Aviation founder G.R Gopinath, freedom fighter H.S. Doreswamy, and even Kannada actor ‘Duniya' Vijay.
India Against Corruption (IAC), the group behind the protests, said that donations had been closed since Sunday as they reached their budget. “We have enough to sustain us till August 25,” said Nitin Jagtap, an IAC volunteer.
The protests seemed to have caught the fancy of flag sellers who have seen brisk business here. Pattamma sells them for Rs. 40 to Rs. 300 each outside the venue. “I made a profit of over Rs. 300 here,” she said. Less than a week ago, she was selling fruits to college students on Mysore Road when she read about the protest in a local daily.
Sensing a business opportunity, she bought flags on loan from K.R Market and started selling them to protesters from Monday.
However, many seem to have the same idea and are flocking to Freedom Park to sell the tricolour and Ms. Pattamma expects the competition to affect her business.