Anna’s supporters raise a storm in Delhi

New Delhi: Young and old, men and women – hundreds of supporters of Anna Hazare raised a storm here Tuesday as they shouted anti-government slogans and pleaded to be arrested after the activist was detained by the police.

On Monday morning, Hazare appealed to his supporters to court arrests and fill jails if he was arrested.

Holding a national flag and wearing a Gandhi cap, 60-year-old Savita Sharma stood unfazed as massive police force engulfed her.

“Please arrest me – that’s what I have been telling the police. They can arrest me but cannot change my mind to raise my voice against corruption. I support Anna and will do so till my death,” Sharma said.

Hundreds of supporters of Hazare gathered in more than one spot across Delhi to denounce the government and support his campaign for a strong Lokpal bill that will effectively check corruption.

It was a visibly charged atmosphere in east Delhi as scores of people gathered when Hazare was detained. The tricolour made a strong presence against the grey skies as the supporters held flags and some had it painted on their faces.

Holding a placard that said ‘Arrest me – I am Anna too’, said 23-year-old Arvind Das: “This is absolute dictatorship. How can the government prevent us from protesting peacefully?”

“The prohibitory orders were in JP Park but Anna was arrested from outside his house…why?”

Supporter Raghu Ram from Haryana said: “This is a fight between good and evil. I will support Anna’s cause till my death.”

Even as supporters spilled over the road from Akshardham temple leading to Noida, massive number of police officials formed a human chain to prevent anything untoward.

Over a 100 people gathered and were detained at JP Park where the fast was to take place – although Delhi Police put prohibitory orders there following team Anna’s refusal to comply with their restrictions.

In all, over 500 people were detained in various parts of the city.

Arvind Kejriwal of Team Anna was also detained along with him outside their residence in east Delhi.

Charged up scenes were seen at Rajghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, where supporters had gathered. Former police officer Kiran Bedi was detained there, as was Shanti Bhushan – both members of Team Anna.

Protests gained momentum across the city, including north Delhi near the Delhi University, as news of Hazare’s detention spread like wild fire.

Demanding immediate release of the veteran leader, scores of students from various colleges marched towards the Police Officer’s Mess in Civil Lines, north Delhi, where Hazare and Kejriwal were taken.

“The recent incidents underline the importance of the Lokpal bill and the government should include the civil society’s suggestions in it,” said Pawan Kumar, a college student from Delhi University’s north campus.

“Most of us gathered here supported Anna when he sat on a protest fast at Jantar Mantar. We will continue to support him,” he added. (IANS)