Delhi: Ramlila ground has turned into a carnival
Bananas and water sachets are for the asking, flung from mini
trucks. Young men paint Indian flags on the cheeks for Rs.10. Also
on sale are 'I Am Anna' caps, T-shirts, caps and varying sizes of
Even as thousands sit on the ground hearing speeches delivered
from the giant stage where Anna Hazare is fasting, demanding a
strong Lokpal Bill, there is plenty of action all over the ground.
There are entire families, children perched on shoulders; young
couples watching with keen interest; the mass of audience cheers
and claps loudly each time someone on the stage makes a point they
Many listen, quietly, as if they are analysing every sentence.
Slogans are aplenty. If Hazare manages to get up and wave his
hands, the response is a huge roar.
After Hazare, the most popular speakers are his associates Swami
Agnivesh, Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal.
Television reporters attract hordes of young and the not so young,
eager to pour out their views on Anna and corruption. Young and
old stroll with eye-catching handwritten posters -- and
On Janmashtami day Monday, one man gets maximum attention - he is
dressed like Kansa, the demon king who was slayed by Lord Krishna.
There is music too. One group of young men and women from
Uttarakhand performs a folk dance, going round in circles, to
synchronised clapping and the beating of traditional drums.
There are plenty of cloth banners. And scores of Indian flags.
A young man is busy reading a book, unmindful of the cacophony. At
the back of the ground, some are lazing away while some others are
huddled in small groups, discussing the cancer of corruption.
Notwithstanding the crowds, the ground is clean, thanks to the
India Against Corruption (IAC) activists who go around collecting
banana peels, empty water sachets and any trash.
At another corner of the ground, parallel to Asaf Ali Road,
organisers accept donations and issue receipts. Those who don't
have the patience to queue up can thrust their money in the white
Simple food is available -- gratis. So are biscuits, 'namkeen' and
Volunteers hand out pamphlets in Hindi and English on Jan Lokpal
Bill, which Team Anna insists can meet the challenge of government
corruption, as opposed to the officially-backed Lokpal bill now
If the crowds at the Ramlila ground were not enough, there is a
mass floating on the roads around it. More keep coming, through
the day. Delhi Metro has made reaching Ramlila ground easy.
Policemen have set up watch towers at the edges of the ground - to
keep an eye for trouble. So far there has been none.
"It is one of the biggest ever crowds I have seen coming to
Ramlila ground voluntarily," said a middle aged man who gave his
name as Shakeel, a resident of nearby Turkman Gate.
Policemen admit that for all the emotions raised over corruption,
the crowds have been remarkably restrained.
The audience is dominantly young -- teenagers and up to the age of
35. They are also the most boisterous. But there are others too.
And there is strong participation from women.
Not everyone knows the nitty gritty of the Lokpal bill and the Jan
Lokpal bill. But everyone is passionate that India should stamp
out corruption. And in the 74-year-old Hazare they have found a
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