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For Anna, sea of humanity to fast beside river in Pune

As anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare begins 3-day hunger strike in Mumbai today for Jan Lokpal Bill, India Against Corruption says 20,000 people expected to take part in relay fast beside Mutha river.

As Anna Hazare begins the third leg of his protest to mount pressure on the government to pass an effective Lokpal Bill at MMRDA grounds in Mumbai today, thousands will throng the banks of Mutha river to express solidarity with the anti-graft crusader by participating in a parallel protest in the city. The riverside behind Deccan bus stand, which has seen many a political rallies so far, will probably witness the last leg of Anna's 'second freedom struggle'. 


Stir venue: Workers put up pandals at the Mutha riverside venue of the 
relay hunger strike. The spot behind Deccan bus stand was being 
readied yesterday to hold thousands of Hazare supporters. 
Pic/Krunal Gosavi

According India Against Corruption (IAC), Pune unit, around 20,000 people are expected to participate in the three-day relay hunger strike, which will start at 9 am and continue till 9 pm. The speakers, invited from across the country to deliver speeches, will enlighten participants about the Jan Lokapal Bill and pros and cons of the anti-graft agitation. The parliamentary procedure of discussion over the Lokpal Bill will be telecast live on the venue. 


Setting the stage: Workers busy readying a pandal on the banks of the 
Mutha for today's protest. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

"Those willing to observe fast for the three days can continue doing so in their respective homes," Deepak Bharadia of IAC, city unit, added. As many as 23 social organisations and several NGOs have pledged support for the protest. They include Art of living, Indian Medical Association, Pune chapter, Creative Foundation, Bharat Nirman Samiti and Sajag Nagrik Manch among others. 

"We have already taken permission from police for the relay fast and congregation of around 20,000 people at riverside, but other organisations who want to fast at different locations of the city have to take clearance from their respective police stations," Bharadia said. He added that freedom fighters, retired government and army officials will participate in the historic movement to bring about an era of change.

"Besides police security, we have deployed more than 100 volunteers who will ensure that the crowd does not go unruly," said Bharadia. 

5,000 to court arrest
More than 5,000 people have pledged support for the Jail Bharo agitation and registered online on the IAC website www.jailchalo.com. The city comes second after Mumbai as far the number of participants is concerned.
Bharadia said, "Considering the vast area of Mumbai, the registration of above 10,000 people is justified. But the response we are getting from Punekars is overwhelming."

Bharadia said that they would start on the spot registration for the Jail Bharo movement at 8 O' clock in the morning. However, people who registered for the Jail Bharo Andolan, have no idea how they would court arrest on December 30 on the call of Hazare. "We haven't planned it yet. It is likely to be to decided only after second day of protest," said Bharadia.

If sources in the Pune Police's Traffic division are to be believed, the agitation for stronger Lokpal may to continue for at least six days. For, the IAC has sought no objection certificate for six days. Police Inspector (Traffic Planning) Vijaykumar Palsule said, "We have issued them traffic NOC on the condition that parking will not be allowed on roads and traffic congestion to be avoided on roads near the venue." 

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