Two days ahead of social activist Anna Hazare’s arrival here, volunteers of India Against Corruption (IAC) are gearing up for the fast, protest and the Jail Bharon Andolan. “We are designing the layout of the stage, tent, and parking space. We will soon finalise the design and then order the most reasonable contractors to erect the pandal,” a member of the team said. Meanwhile, the team is working to gather support via public demonstrations.
Khusvi Gandhi, 25, led a team of young volunteers who dressed as Santa Claus and wore Anna masks at Andheri on Saturday. “We will be carrying goodie bags full of Anna masks, Gandhi caps and jail bharo registration forms,” she added. Online petitions for the protest have doubled in the last day with the number of ‘jail bharo’ registrations reaching over 60,000 on Saturday evening; over 5,600 are from the Mumbai region only.
Asked whether the number of people willing to go to jail might become a nuisance for the police, a volunteer said: “That is the police’s problem. I feel a sense of pride that freedom fighters felt at the time of Independence. We had certain hopes from the Bill, now we feel cheated and we have decided to do something about it.” “Parliament has been hijacked by corruption and the substance of democracy is that people have a say and they need to be heard, inconvenience is just a civil disobedience,” another volunteer added. The venue of the fast is the G block of Bandra-Kurla complex.
The 48,000 sq. m. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground has a capacity to accommodate over 60,000 people. However, the authority will be renting out 20,000 sq. m. for the rally and 10,000 sq. m. for parking. The MMRDA has specified December 26 for pandal installation and December 30 for its removal. Team Anna has paid Rs. 7.78 lakh as rent and Rs. 5.29 lakh as refundable security deposit for the rally.
Preparations for the event are in full swing. IAC sources said that at the venue, a room attached with toilet will be provided for Mr. Hazare, along with a cot and a continuous supply of hot water. The anti-corruption crusader has caught a cold and is convalescing at his village. IAC volunteer N. Srinivas, an architect, will design the stage. “There will be an invitee room for the Core Committee members and a visitors’ room. There will be separate rooms for security, medical and police personnel. Ambulance services will be present 24 hours a day. “A team of doctors, comprising volunteers, will be present. We will have an information centre, a media room and registration counters,” IAC coordinator Mayank Gandhi said.