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Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Discontent Increases Visibly As Citizens Come Out In Rallies Across City

   The public outpouring of support for Anna Hazare swelled on Wednesday, spreading to different parts of the city like a wildfire. Across Mumbai and its neighbouring areas, citizens participated in impromptu rallies and candlelight marches to show solidarity with the Gandhian activist and his anti-corruption cause. At Juhu beach alone, thousands congregated in the evening in response to one clarion call.
   In all, rallies were held at more than 27 places in Mumbai, including at Bandra, Andheri, Bhandup, Gorai, Powai, Bhayander, Virar station, Goregaon. But the most remarkable of them all was probably at Juhu. The march started from Andheri station with about 5,000 people in attendance, according to the organizer, India Against Corruption (IAC). By the time it moved via SV Road to Irla and past Mithibai College, thousands more—many of whom were students attending Umang festival—had joined.
   "The numbers kept increasing. We couldn't see the end of the line. My son was a kilometre away," said Mayank Gandhi, chief coordinator of IAC. When they reached Juhu beach, "I gave a speech on Jan Lokpal bill. People sat on the sand. They stretched from Gandhiji's statue to the food court. My voice reached only 30% of them," continued Gandhi.
   Sagar Bekal, a Vile Parle resident who was one of those present at Juhu beach, said: "It was great to see such a big crowd. The mood couldn't be expressed in words. Everyone wanted change. People of every age group, even those with disabilities, were there."
   Elsewhere, at Malabar Hill, shopkeepers shut their stores for the better part of the day so that they could participate in the protest at Azad Maidan. "They closed
stores from lunch till 9pm," said Indrani Malkani, a local resident. "These acts are spontaneous. Nobody is nudging them."
   In Thane, the police rounded up at least 25 protesters when they assembled near the station to voice their support for Hazare. The supporters were let off with a warning.
   The mainstay of the protests, like on Tuesday, was at Azad Maidan. Unlike Tuesday however, the organizers used the opportunity to instruct participants on the import of the Jan Lokpal bill instead of giving fiery speeches.
   Through the day, a steady stream of citizens poured into the south Mumbai ground, unmindful of the disturbance to their jobs and schedules.
   The crowds began building around 10am, when scores of youths, particularly students from St Xavier's College and Thakur College, assembled at the maidan. They were joined in the afternoon by doctors from the Indian Medical Association and members of
associations as diverse as the Andheri Bar Association and the All India Ball Bearing Merchants Association. Still more men and women representing groups of diamond merchants, shopkeepers, chemists and former servicemen added to the numbers later in the day.
   "We are doctors from Lilavati, Breach Candy, Bombay Hospital, Jaslok. We have made available medical care and an ambulance," Dr Ashish Tewari, member, Indian Medical Association.

Youth Cong leader quits    

Even as Congress leaders are not ready to accept the Jan Lokpal bill drafted by Team Anna, around 100 Congress supporters in Kalyan, including a Youth Congress leader, have come out in support of Hazare and resigned from the party. Jitesh Singh, who was secretary of the District Youth Congress, said, "The way the Congress is not ready to accept Anna Hazare's proposal, it looks like it is in favour of corruption and does not want to stop it. That is why, after watching a few days' events, many youth supporters and I resigned from the party." Singh had organized a rally in support of Hazare. Anju Arora, a Congress worker who left the party, said, "We only want that the government accepts the bill drafted by Anna Hazare to show that it is in favour of stopping corruption in the country." TNN


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