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'Lokpal stir has taken our Anna from us'

Activist's NGO members say tightened security around him has made him unapproachable to his followers

Anna Hazare' Lokpal agitation may be bringing the nation together but members of his NGO Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan and his followers in Ralegan Siddhi feel that the issue has distanced him from them as he has become inaccessible because of the security detail around him. 


Near, yet so far: Members of the NGO Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan
claim that even those close to Anna cannot approach him without taking
appointments and being frisked


Allaudin Shaikh, trustee secretary of the NGO, echoed the sentiments of 12,000 NGO members when he said, "Since his first anti-corruption agitation in 1989 at Alandi, Pune, he has led 17 protests. It is only the Lokpal stir that makes us feel that our Anna is being taken away from us. The common man's leader is not allowed to be with his people."

Shaikh said earlier Anna would sit close to the crowd and everyone could approach him directly. "But now he is made to sit on a dais with a ring of policemen," he said.

According to his followers, though Anna does not like to be away from his people, it is the Delhi and Mumbai police who cite intelligence inputs regarding threat to his life to keep people away. Even his trusted men are screened and many have to take appointments to meet him.

Aslam Shaikh, Thane district president of the NGO, said, "Policemen guarding him do not allow me even to touch his feet."

Senior NGO workers have decided to organise a meeting with Anna every three months. "We want to bridge this gap. A website www.bvja.org will be launched soon to update followers on the Lokpal agenda with personal messages from Anna," said Ashok Sappan, vice-president of the NGO.

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