Tag Archives: IAC

Anna supporters disappointed but not disheartened

MUMBAI: “Anna has asked us to call of the fast, not the agitation, we will disperse but only so that he gets healthy, Team members can decide a stronger course of action. We will join him whenever we are informed,” Harchand Chera, taxi driver from Worli who was one of the 100 volunteers fasting with Mr Anna Hazare at the MMRDA ground. As he packed his bag Mr Chera said he could fast for as many days as Anna ji said.

From blaming the venue to Anna’s health issues, volunteers and supporters preferred citing any reason as an excuse in a bid to hold on to their faith in Anna Hazare. “Had he been healthy he would have fasted for as long as it took for the government to buckle… the venue if far from the city center but we will go wherever Anna goes. We are not fans cheering a movie or cricket celebrity. Anna ji is our role model and leader and we have been fasting with him since the first agitation against corruption,” 22 year old writer from Navi Mumbai said. Amidst concerns over their leader’s health, volunteers waited for their leader to break their fast before them, “We have heard the announcement but how can a 22 year old accept food when that 74 year old unwell man has not?” he asked.

Most Dedicated supporters lacked know how of the details of the bills or any specific differences in the governments and team Anna’s bill drafts but insisted that supporting Anna was the only solution to fighting corruption. “We have no hope in the politicians, they all claim that they come from humble backgrounds but within few years they become rich. How will they frame a bill that has the power to put them in jail? That why we support Anna ji, he has no possessions and no desire to make money or grab power,” 82- year old Jamna Prashad Sharma said. “I may look frail and old but I would rather die while on protest against corruption,” he added.

Youngest fasting volunteer, 13 year old Pratik Vankedhe said he was motivated to act when he saw that poor students of his school were punished because they could not pay fee. “I wanted the world to know how unfair the education system is, the poor are harassed for being poor,” he said. “He insisted on fasting, we tried on convince him not to but he idolises Anna ji,” Pratik’s father Ramesh Vankedhe said.

Standing out in the gathering were over a dozen supporters dressed in formals who took time from their offices to mark their presence at the venue, “My office is nearby and I was following the movement. I could not fast but I decided to come and witness the agitation.” Despite disappointed by the sudden U-turn the crowd roared each time Anna spoke frailly from the dais. Meanwhile villagers from Anna Hazare’s native village Ralegan Siddhi came to the venue to join their leader in his protest against the weak Lokpal bill said they were disappointed with the government for not listening to Anna. “Specifics don’t matter, when lakhs of people are asking the government to change the bill then it should be changed! Otherwise we will be sure that the government is corrupt and unwilling to change,” 35 year old Anna supporter said. (Eom)



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MMRDA ground all set for Anna’s historic fast

A day before Anna Hazare begins his fourth fast of the year for a ‘strong Lokpal Bill,’ the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in the Bandra Kurla complex is all ready to receive the activist and his supporters.

Mr. Hazare’s supporters have already started to gather at the fortified venue, which will have 2,000 police constables, 200 sub-inspectors, six platoons of the State Reserve Police Force, three Quick Response Teams and two Bomb Detection and Disposal Squads. Members of India Against Corruption (IAC) have appealed to the people not to carry luggage or personal belongings to the venue for security reasons. No special exemptions have been extended to Team Anna for the protest.

Less than 24 hours before the fast, Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Umeshchandra Sarangi held a meeting with top police officials, including the Director-General of Police and the Mumbai Police Commissioner, to review security issues.

Speeches to be monitored

“We will control access to the ground and see to it that the crowds do not become unmanageable,” Mr. Sarangi told reporters after the meeting. The State will monitor all speeches made from the dharna platform from Tuesday.

Some 10,000 sq. metres of the 30,000 sq. metre-ground will be reserved for parking. The ground will have six emergency exits, 16 fire extinguishers and six metal detectors. Ambulances and a fire engine will be on standby round-the-clock. IAC has already booked over 300 dormitories in Bandra and Kurla and many buses will run from the nearby railway stations to the venue on all three days.

On Tuesday, Mr. Hazare will begin his fast after garlanding Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Juhu and a rally of bikes will move with him towards the MMRDA ground. The 74-year-old will be on fast on December 27, 28 and 29.

That will be followed by a Jail Bharo Andolan on December 30 across the country.

Less than 24 hours before the fast, social networking sites are abuzz.

The number of registrations for Jailchalo has crossed 1,30,000, out of which over 11,000 are from the Mumbai region.


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I am forced to go on fast: Hazare

Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare reached here on Monday, to push for a strong Lokpal with a three-day hunger strike starting Tuesday evening.

Despite suffering from fever and cold, the 74-year-old Mr. Hazare left his village Ralegan-Siddhi, halting at Sant Gyaneshwar temple to offer prayers before reaching here after a six-hour drive.

Mere information of his arrival here created a wave of excitement among the volunteers of India Against Corruption (IAC) movement. “He has reached and now the wheel of change will turn, we expect well over a lakh people to come each day. Even before the actual event crowds have started to gather at the venue and there have been over one lakh online registrations,” a 21-year-old student volunteering at the venue as an usher said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Hazare will begin his fast after garlanding Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Juhu and a rally of bikes will move with him towards the MMRDA ground where he would sit on his protest fast. He will be on fast till December 29 followed by a ‘jail bharo andolan’ on December 30 across the country.

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Team Anna is not soft on communalism: Kejriwal

Key member of Team Anna, Arvind Kejriwal, has sought to dispel any impression that social activist Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement is soft on the issue of communalism.

“Corruption does not discriminate between Hindus and Muslims. It affects all communities, and a corrupt officer is neither Hindu nor Muslim. The UPA can try to project Annaji’s agitation as anti-Dalit or anti-Muslim, but the fact remains that all religions and castes are standing with us and against corruption,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

The statements were made on Sunday, after Mr. Kejriwal had a long discussion with representatives of many Muslim NGOs such as the Mumbai Aman Committee, the Impact India Foundation, the All India Ulema Council and Federation of Muslim NGOs (AIUC).

“Communalism is a bigger danger than corruption. We have said repeatedly that we are totally against communalism,” he said.

Explaining the last-minute change in the venue of the meeting, AIUC chief Maulana Mehboob Daryabadi said: “We were scheduled to meet at the Islam Gymkhana Club but they were being pressurised by some members of the Congress party, so we decided to change the venue and avoid unpleasantness. We had long and frank discussions with Mr. Kejriwal and we are with him and Annaji in the fight against corruption.”

Mr. Kejriwal sought to allay fears that a larger gathering at the fast venue could lead to trouble or violence. “In Delhi, lakhs of people got together on the Ramlila grounds, yet there was no trouble. This is because we asked everyone to be vigilant.”

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Kishore Joshi said in a statement that Mr. Hazare’s agitation was directed only at the party, which had been instrumental in introducing the Lokpal Bill, while the Shiv Sena had opposed it and challenged Team Anna to launch an agitation against its chief Bal Thackeray.

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battle lines drawn at the fast venue

MUMBAI: Anna Hazare’s fast venue at Bandra-Kurla Complex saw hundreds of volunteers gathered to plan the protest and as many policemen gathered to ensure safety arrangements. For over 600 constables Christmas evening meant marching to the venue to review the area where they would be deputed for the next few days, “At no cost should anyone be rude, politely as people to cooperate so that there is no unpleasantness,” a group was being instructed at one of the corners of the 30,000 sq meter ground.

Over 50,000 people are expected to turn up at the fast every day “we are not going to register every persona s it will be very difficult to keep count, only people keeping fast with Anna ji will be registered,” Mayank Gandhi, coordinator of Mumbai IAC said. He added that there has been a huge support to the moment and they will not to accept any financial aid from anyone, “I am glad to say that people have volunteered to sponsor food, water, CCTV cameras, and rent of the venue. Within few hours of submitting application with MMRDA people had pledged over Rs 70 lakh. But we are not accepting nay cash or cheque this time.”

“We have lived our lives under forced corruption, our only demand is that the government comes up with a strong anti-graft bill so that the coming generation have a choice to be corrupt on not. We are still expecting the government to give an actual anti graft law and that will be a victory for us and the country, but there is little hope from politician,” one of the volunteer said.  “I am going to be here for as long as it takes …my business will get affected but the country has been hurt more,” he added.

In a related development, as many as 84,487 people from all over the country had registered their names till 9 pm on jailchalo.com web site set up by the IAC for registering the names of volunteers expressing their readiness to go to jail as part of its jail bharo andolan slated for December 30,31 and January 1 for the Jan Lokpal cause. Nearly 8,000 people from Mumbai and suburbs have registered, “This number is going to increase, we were expecting people to start registering after  27th when Anna Ji is here and the fast begins but we already have over 80, 000 people,” Radhika Prashad Dubey, who has taken up to responsibility of supplying food at the venue. “We have not tried to estimate the number of people, we will feed every person that comes here,” he added.

Responding to Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s remarks on Anna Hazare’s association with Rastriya Swayam Sevi sang (RSS) based on a picture with Nanaji Deskmukh to Arvind Kejriwal said,” Anna ji has pictures with Digvijay Singh and Sonia Gandhi as well, what does that mean?”

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