Delhi: Even as support for Gandhian Anna Hazare's
movement against corruption touches monumental heights, there's
been a consequent flipside. A number of people have been
complaining of some fringe elements in the movement creating a
nuisance -- harassing and misbehaving with women, raising vulgar
slogans and picking pockets.
Shanta Sharma, a student of Delhi University, said that she was
harassed by a group of men returning from a protest site Wednesday
"My friend and I were on our way back to the hostel from Connaught
Place... we deboarded the metro at GTB Nagar station and were
shocked to hear loud whistles and some nasty comments," Sharma
"When we looked back, it was a group of young men holding flags
and wearing t-shirts with 'We support Anna' written on them. We
really didn't know how to react... these people have no idea what
Anna is fighting for. They have no respect for women and are out
there only to have fun," she said with disgust.
Shikha Singh, a media professional, had a similar tale to narrate.
"The Central Secretariat Metro station was crowded even at 11 p.m.
last (Wednesday) night and most of the people had come from the
rally at India Gate in support of Anna. All the men entered the
women's coach and started passing obscene comments."
"I am sure Anna will be very unhappy if he hears about such cheap
behaviour on part of his supporters. But the thing is, Anna cannot
take the responsibility of all his supporters' behaviour...and if
he doesn't, then who will," Singh asked.
Narrating yet another horror tale, Sudhisha Bhola, a young
marketing professional, who was stuck in a traffic jam near Jantar
Mantar during the rally Wednesday, said: "You could see that most
of the youngsters in the crowd were attending the rally just for
fun and didn't even know what the Lokpal bill is."
"They were passing indecent comments on women stuck in the jam,"
Outside the Tihar Jail, even female journalists were not spared.
"Young, rowdy school kids and others shouting cheap slogans
gathered around two female TV reporters and pushed them around.
When they tried to get away, the crowd followed them. Finally, we
had to intervene to shoo away the crowd, most of whom were
minors," a police officer said.
He added that at least four-five incidents of pick-pocketing were
being lodged every day.
Sanjeev Kumar, one of the protestors who went with his wife to
support Anna's movement outside Tihar Jail, came back disgusted.
"I was really disappointed seeing the rowdy crowd...my wife was
being jostled around and harassed. There were lewd comments being
passed at her... I was really disgusted. We left the scene
immediately," Kumar told IANS.
Raju, a street vendor outside the jail, said: "Yesterday
(Wednesday), there must have been around 2,000 people here but
today (Thursday) it is only a few hundreds...and that too it was
mostly bawdy school children."
Rajnish Misra, a sociology professor, said: "Whenever there is a
mass movement like that of Anna Hazare's, there is bound to be a
few fringe elements who are just mischief makers. They are on a
different momentum...it's more of a herd mentality and it's not so
much of supporting the cause, as just being there for some
"It just ends up spoiling the atmosphere...and alienating chunks
of people who may have otherwise wanted to be a part of the
movement," he added.
Aayush Anand, who went to Tihar with his family, decided to return
home in just five minutes after hearing the vulgar slogans.
"I had never imagined that we will have to hear such cheap
slogans. I felt so embarrassed that I left immediately," said
Anand, a software engineer.
Hazare, 74, had planned to begin his fast for a stronger
anti-corruption Lokpal Bill from the J.P. Park in the ITO area
Tuesday. However, Delhi Police imposed certain conditions before
allowing the protest.
Hazare refused to sign the undertaking, following which the police
detained him and his other team members Tuesday. This led to
wide-scale protests and rallies in various places across the city.
He was arrested and subsequently released Tuesday evening but
refused to leave the jail until allowed to carry on the protest
without any conditions. The social activist was finally allowed to
hold the protest fast at Ramlila ground for 15 days.
Azera Rahman can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; Sumit Kumar Singh can be contacted