GUWAHATI, Aug 28 – Along with the rest of India, people of the capital city on Sunday raised the victory sign for Anna Hazare, the steadfast crusader who won millions of hearts across the country with his commitment to eradicating corruption from the system.
However, Guwahati celebrated in a subdued manner as the crusader against corruption broke his 12-day-long fast. The reason behind the low-key celebration was the flood situation in the State that has brought untold sufferings for the affected. A cross-section of the citizens who came to extend their solidarity with Anna Hazare under the banner of India Against Corruption, Assam branch decided not to overdo any celebration in view of the flood situation.
At the Lakhidhar Bora Khetra here where India Against Corruption, Assam branch, has been raising their voice of protest against corruption, the happiness was evident, but there was also a wait-and-watch attitude.
“We extend our gratitude to the people for supporting our programme. We decided against a bigger celebration because of the flood situation in the State,” said Pranjal Bordoloi, general secretary of India Against Corruption, Assam Branch.
It needs to be mentioned here that Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) general secretary Akhil Gogoi will address the people on August 29 at 11 am at the Lakhidhar Bora Khetra.
“We appeal to the people of the State to keep this spirit alive. The people should not encourage or participate in corruption and only then we can build an India of our dreams,” said Bordoloi, adding that though there is hope among the people, it is prudent to wait for the government to deliver.
The young people, however, seen to be on cloud nine. They are confident that the government will be bound to deliver its promise. Pavan Sarma, a BCom first year student of Gauhati Commerce College, who has been a part of the spontaneous citizens movement, said that the development has given a positive vibe and he and his friends were optimistic that people will get what they have been demanding – a strong anti-graft legislation.
Earlier on Saturday, thousands of protesters from diverse walks of life including students, women and senior citizens joined hands to voice their opposition to the scourge of corruption and pledge their support to the anti-corruption crusade spearheaded by Gandhian activist Anna Hazare.
The call for the protest, a Satyagraha, was given by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and it elicited overwhelming participation from a cross-section of society. The message was loud and clear – corruption can have no place in a civilized society and those perpetuating corruption at the higher echelons of the government machinery must be made accountable through a stringent system.
The protesters assembled at the Latasil playground around 12 noon and started pouring onto the road soon thereafter in the form of a procession. They marched through several thoroughfares of the city, passing through different places including Barowari, Guwahati Club, Guwahati Press Club, District Library, Handique Girls’ College, Dighalipukhuri, etc., before reaching the Latasil ground around 2 pm.
The protesters carried festoons and placards, and shouted slogans denouncing corruption at high places and demanding a cure to it in the form of a strong Jan Lokpal Bill.
“We were overwhelmed with the spontaneous public participation. It is apparent that people are sick of corruption and want a change in the system,” AASU activist Bipul Rabha said.
The agitators included – besides people from different walks – representatives from a number of voluntary organizations and labour and employees’ unions. AASU units from other districts also joined the march. A notable feature was the participation of a large number of mahila samitis (women organizations) and citizens’ committees. Schoolchildren, too, were seen in sizeable numbers as were college students.
“We have come out to the streets because the political class has cheated on us. They have all but legitimized corruption to amass wealth at the cost of the people’s money. This has to change and the desired change can take place only through a system that can ensure transparency and accountability, besides exemplary punishment to the corrupt,” a young housewife who came under the banner of a mahila samiti, said.
A senior citizen was of the view that the country’s development process was weakened by rampant corruption and the time had come to effect drastic changes in the manner corruption was viewed and tackled.
“As of now, there is hardly any mechanism that can check corruption at higher places or can punish the perpetrators. This is where the need of a strong and independent Lokpal institution arises,” he said.
Another participant felt that the stubborn opposition of the political parties to the Jan Lokpal Bill as envisaged by Team Anna made it clear that the corrupt had a lot to lose in such an eventuality.