Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Five days under the auspices of Anna: Day III

Day-3 of Anna's fast and after last evenings successful candle light march I woke up feeling great. Doing good things does that to you. Unlike my regular routine of grabbing the newspaper the first thing I did this morning was to toast four slices of bread for my self. Well, being without solid food for two days at a go does make you realize the importance of food.

After paying my broadband bill I rushed to Jantar-Mantar and like the previous two days distributed pamphlets in the metro. Quite a few people seemed interested in what was going on. Some asked me questions regarding Jan Lokpal and I tried my best to clear their doubts and reservations about Janlokpal and the ongoing event. Many of them pledged their support to the cause.

I finally reached Jantar Mantar at half past eleven and got busy with managing the crowd. The crowd that day was much more than the previous two days and the volunteers like me were having a tough time managing it but we were enjoying it at the same time. Then I met a group of engineering students from Greater Noida who had come all the way to support the cause and given that they were my university juniors I joined them and we did a flag march in the inner circle of Cannaut Place. We shouted slogans, waved the Indian flag and distributed pamphlets. The public response was great and raised our morale.

We came back to Jantar Mantar by 4pm by which the preparations for the candle march had started. I joined others in the preparations and by five thirty after another stimulating speech by Anna we left for India Gate. The mere sight of thousands walking quietly with candles in hand would have shook the political leaders sitting in north and south block across the road.

It wasn't Tahrir Square as some people put it, it was more awe inspiring than Tahrir Square. In Egypt there were gun shots and killings but here, in India we followed the words of Mahatma Gandhi and like a true Gandhian did not resort to violence or damage to public property in any way. Silence is more powerful than shouts. I had heard that, now I believe that.

We came back to Jantar Mantar by 7:30 and the march consisted of more than ten thousand people. None of them paid or brought there in trucks, they all were present there because they wanted to help in the cause.

After coming back a went back to my crowd management duty. An assamese friend of mine also came to Jantar Mantar after her office. It was her first experience of such an event and to be true it was a bit unpleasant for her as she hates crowds. Despite that she agreed to the fact that this was indeed an unexpected mass of humans. She had come expecting a few hundred people but what she saw was thousands and thousands with candles in their hands and marching silently.

At around nine in night I went to the help desk as I was thirsty and needed a glass of water. There I met Prahlad, a volunteer who is known by everyone associated with IAC to be proactive and passionate about the cause. Prahlad bhai asked me if I would volunteer to stay in the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital with the three patients who had been sent there from among those who were fasting due to dehydration. I was a bit reluctant in the start and tried my best to find others for the job but everyone said, "I can do it tomorrow but not tonight." Thus in the end I took the responsibility. I walked my friend to the nearby Patel Chowk metro station and then went to the hospital with another volunteer called Manoj.

There we met Yogesh, Ramashray and Sneha who had been performing the duty of looking after the patients till now. They stayed on for a while, introduced us to the three elderly people who were admitted and briefed us about the medicines and blood reports, etc. A few media persons also came and informed us that a few other anshankari's were unwell and they might be brought to RML. I and Ramashray went and talked to the lady on reception about availability of beds and were told, "There are no more beds, the best we can do is to put two of you patients on one bed."

It angered all of us but we decided not to take the matter any further till any more patients arrive. Thankfully no more patients arrived that night. Yogesh, Ramashray and Sneha left at about 11 in night for Jantar Mantar where they were supposed to spend the night.

I and Manoj sat by the three patients, namely O.S. Chauhan, Rampal Singh and Mahant Gopaldas. Chauhan saab was a 74 year old ex-government servant who had come from Bhopal to take part in the agitation, Rampal Singh was from Etawah in U.P. and Gopaldas ji was Mahant of a temple somewhere near Bhopal. He had undertaken such fasts earlier too but this time had decided to do it without water and during regular checkup the doctors found that he had fever and brought him to the hospital.

At about three in night I started to feel a bit sleepy and decided to take rest for two hours as at six n the morning Manoj had to leave for his home. I can out of the patient room and spread the bed sheet Manoj had got with him on the floor outside the ward. There were few other sitting there and I also sat down with them. One of them noticed the yellow colored batch with a message to our respected Prime Minister written on it and asked if I was part of Anna's movement. I replied, 'Yes, I am.'

What followed was an hour long discussion on whether or not the corruption in India can be rooted out, whether Anna's fast was morally correct, whether the Government will relent or not. After an hour when Manoj came out for a stroll he saw me in middle of a heated discussion and said, "I thought you were tired and wanted to sleep." I didn't reply, just grinned and continued with the discussion. Manoj also joined the discussion and after a while I went to sleep at about 4 am.

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