Our campaign at Mysore entered the second day with a few of us continuing the fast. The campaign got a boost with Abids, a local shamiana merchant, putting up a waterproof structure at the venue at his expense. He wanted to make sure that rain would not deter the protesters. This was his way of joining our movement. Other local merchants ensured supply of drinking water and were constantly dropping in with words of encouragement.
People slowly started joining us at the Gandhi Statue. By noon, thousands of students (an estimate put it at 6000) from many different colleges came marching and shouting slogans. We had school children from a popular local school participating. Seeing the students gave us all so much energy. The atmosphere was so charged up with groups singing patriotic songs and shouting ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ spontaneously. The police for their part were very polite and managed the situation very well. Local vendors and the taxi drivers association spontaneously distributed bananas and guavas to the protesting students.
People from different walks of life started to pour in. We had representatives from the auto drivers association, the chemists and druggists association, the Jain Yuvak Sangh and others coming in. We also had the former Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly come in and pledge his support to the campaign. Engineering students offered to set up a blog and a Facebook page for the campaign. Others planned a bike rally that would wake up Mysoreans and create awareness on the bill that civil society was demanding.
We had people singing patriotic songs throughout the day and this was interspersed with experiences of how corruption had affected each person’s life. All in all, the day passed by quickly. We decided that we would now fast only during the day and people joining us could do so for as much time as their lives permitted.
The Rotary Club had organized a candle light vigil at 6.30 pm. Again, it was very encouraging to see businessmen, government officials, children, young people walking together, braving the rain. Each person felt so involved and passionate and we ended the walk with a brief talk of mine. I spoke to them about the Lokpal bill tabled in Parliament and the demand for a strong anti-corruption Act. Hopefully this momentum will sustain and we will soon see change in the attitude of the Government.
Related reports in the Press
The Hindu: Hazare’s arrest ‘undemocratic’
The Times of India: A tribal with a mission
Deccan Herald: City unleashes youth power for Anna
Star of Mysore: City students rally for Anna