In rain, sea of supporters follow Anna Hazare through Delhi

August 19th, 2011 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) The national capital was Friday gripped by the phenomenon called Anna Hazare. From the moment he stepped out of Tihar Jail in west Delhi till the time he reached the Ramlila Ground in central Delhi - a distance of some 30 km - he was followed by a sea of supporters who, oblivious to the heavy rain, waved the tricolour and raised slogans in support of the social activist.

It was a sight to behold as the seemingly frail man, wearing a white dhoti-kurta and a Gandhi cap, stepped out of the jail premises at around 11.30 a.m. with a broad smile four days after he was detained and later released. He has also been fasting since then.

“You must continue the andolan (movement) whether or not I am there,” he said, as the crowd roared.

After speaking briefly, he stepped aboard an open truck, which was well equipped with a white mattress, cushions and also a big umbrella. People on the road and on the rooftops of nearby houses keenly looked on.

Hazare then waved the tricolour and shouted ‘Vande Mataram’. The crowd roared back. The sea of supporters then followed the truck as it slowly started moving.

Patriotic slogans like ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and those in support of Hazare like ‘Anna Hum Tumhare Saath Hai’ (Anna, we are with you) echoed everywhere. Some also held banners with slogans like ‘Main bhi Anna, Tu bhi Anna, Ab to Saara Desh Hai Anna’ (You are Anna, I am Anna, now the entire nation is Anna).

Even as it poured, Hazare travelled on the open truck for some distance under the shelter of an umbrella before getting into a car. The cavalcade of enthusiastic followers with umbrellas and otherwise then made a stop over at Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial in central Delhi, at around 1.53 p.m.

At Rajghat, Hazare paid his respects to the Father of the Nation. He laid a garland of white flowers at the samadhi, sprinkled some rose petals and, after taking off his cap, bowed down with his forehead touching the black marble slab.

Not suprisingly, the otherwise serene Rajghat, was teeming with people. Police officials formed a human chain around the elderly leader to prevent him from being jostled by the over-enthusiastic crowd.

Hazare suddenly took everyone by surprise as he quickly sprinted across the green lawns in the rain…followed by startled police officials and supporters.

The cavalcade then continued its journey, through India Gate and finally reaching the Ramlila ground at around 2.20 p.m. The entire journey took about three hours.

At the Ramlila Ground, where Hazare will fast for at least the next 15 days along with his other aides, he was welcomed by a massive group of supporters.

With ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram’ playing on the sound system, Hazare spoke to the nearly 2,000 strong crowd, making a special mention of the youth of the nation. “The youth bring about change and I am happy that today when I stand here, so many youngsters have come to show their support,” he said.

“We will not leave this ground until the Jan Lokpal bill is passed,” he added.

The crowd - mostly men, women and school children - cheered, heralding what seems like a long journey ahead.

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