Advocate Bhushan Malgaonkar joins Anna Hazare's fast for Lokpal bill

Updated: Mar 28, 2018, 11:33 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Advocate Bhushan Malgaonkar gives cops a hard time after making himself comfortable at Azad maidan, joining Hazare's fast for Lokpal

Bhushan Malgaonkar (sitting centre) with supporters and friends at Azad Maidan
Bhushan Malgaonkar (sitting centre) with supporters and friends at Azad Maidan

On an unforgiving hot Tuesday morning, advocate Bhushan Malgaonkar, 33, struggles out of his makeshift bed at one corner of Azad Maidan, and smiles as we spot him. The Wadala-based activist is on an anshan (fast) like Anna Hazare, who is fasting in New Delhi. His fast has entered the fifth day, and weakness has begun to set in.

Anna effect
"Like Anna Hazare, I am fasting for Lokpal," says Malgaonkar. "My fast runs parallel with Annaji's. We have entered the fifth day on Tuesday." Lokpal is an anti-corruption authority that represents public interest. The Lokpal has jurisdiction over all Members of Parliament and central government employees in cases of corruption. The Lokpal looks into corruption charges at the national level while the Lokayukta does so at the state level. Despite the high octane campaign by the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, which had caught the imagination of the nation a few years earlier, the government is yet to appoint a Lokpal.

Staying put
Malgaonkar has been asked to leave Azad Maidan, which has been home to him for the past five days. "The police try to get me to leave after 6 pm daily, citing a court order, but being an advocate, I know there is no such order. I stay put at the maidan all night," says Malgaonkar.

The advocate, who said he practises in the High Court and Supreme Court, specialising in Human rights, Right to Information, Public Interest Litigation (PIL), adds, "I had fasted in 2011, along with Anna, in New Delhi. We had fasted for 10 days. When you begin fasting, the first three days there is acute hunger, but post the third day, you feel no hunger. Then, you can continue even till death," he says darkly.

Malgaonkar was interrupted as an inspector arrived on the scene and carted Malgaonkar off to a hospital. Malgaonkar's medical report revealed he has lost seven kilos since he began fasting. He refused medication or an intravenous drip at the hospital. A supporter, Nitin Chavan, added. "The BJP was with us in 2011 when we were asking for Lokpal. This is because it was in the Opposition. Now that it is the ruling party, there has been a U-turn."

Still potent
Activist Gopal Shetye said, "This is a fight unto death against corruption. We want more weapons like the Lokpal to fight corruption." For Pardeshi Karmarkar and Ramesh Wankhede who were in the Support Bhushan group, "A fast still has potency as a weapon. It has non-violence at its heart, and as history has shown us, non-violence has the power to blunt violence." Activist Sonika Krantiveer added that, "There seem to be two sets of laws. One for the ordinary man and the other for actors and businessmen. That is why we need Lokpal."

Anna update
Anna Hazare is on an indefinite fast at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi for Lokpal, for a better deal for farmers and for electoral reforms. Anna has been demanding all assurances in writing.

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