And how Rajghat has been turned into a fortress to prevent easy access
Danish Raza | June 8, 2011
For Pushpa, a resident of outer Delhi's Bhalswa in her early 30s, Jantar Mantar is synonymous with protest. Pushpa was there when Anna Hazare observed the fast that made the government form a committee to help curb corruption. She is disappointed to know that the venue of Wednesday's protest has been changed to Rajghat - the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi.
"Jantar Mantar matlab aandolan," she says.
Pushpa is right.
At Rajghat, the authorities have provided a closed enclosure - with pavements on two sides and police barricades on the other two - for people to protest the June 5 crackdown on Baba Ramdev.
Unlike Jantar Mantar, this is literally a horizontal strip, half a kilometre from the Delhi secretariat.
The protest is happeneing on a two-way lane behind Rajghat. But the police have allowed public entry only on one lane. The other lane is out of bounds for the public.
Delhi Police has fortified the entire area since 8 am. Every protester has been screened and all baggage is being checked.
There is just one entry point to the venue.
To make the matters worse, the nearest parking is around one kilometre from the venue.
But the lack of facilities has not stopped people from supporting Anna at Rajghat.
Like Pushpa, thousands of people from all over the country have joined the one-day protest.
The atmosphere has been charged since morning.
At 11.30 am, a crowd of more than 1,500 welcomed Anna Hazare with slogans of 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'
Anna and other civil society members of the joint drafting committee of the Lokpal Bill condemned the government crackdown on Baba Ramdev.
"What happened that night was barbaric. It is not about the issue or about the leader. It is about the way the government handled the propest," said Anna.
Religious leaders and people from all walks of life have come to join the protest.
BJP to launch three-day agitation against corruption
BJP on Wednesday criticised home minister P Chidambaram for alleging that RSS was behind Ramdev's agitation and announced a three-day anti-corruption campaign starting tomorrow.
"Anybody who speaks against corruption is linked to BJP or RSS by him (Chidambaram). Even if somebody in his office talks about corruption, then he will smell RSS and BJP there also," BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain said.
He said Chidambaram was not giving "measured comments" since his name has allgedly cropped up in the 2G spectrum scam.
Asked about party chief Nitin Gadkari's comment to a TV channel that he has evidence against Chidambaram for his alleged involvement in 2G spectrum scam, Hussain said "Gadkari has raised the issue..We will take it forward."
He said a nationwide campaign against corruption and the government's crackdown on Ramdev during which senior party leaders will address meetings and rallies in state capitals and prominent towns from tomorrow till Saturday.
"We will continue our protest against the kind of un-announced emergency that we saw on Saturday night," he said.
Expressing concern over Ramdev's deteriorating health, Hussain accused the government leaders of issuing staments in "authoritarian tone".
"Government must address the issues raised by the civil society. The BJP will continue its fight against corruption," he said describing Ramdev as a "saint" who has taken up cudgels of addressing the menace of corruption and black money.
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