Friday, 19th August
The scintillating atmosphere reminded one of the freshmen orientations, yet not quite so, as the campaigners, angered by decades of corruption, gathered in sheer volumes, shouting slogans and displaying solidarity in a chain stretching all the way from hostel 13 to the main gate. Not only students but seniors citizens and school children could also be seen in segments of the 5 km long human chain. Nationalist fever had seized each and every one of them, sporting Gandhi topis engraved with “Me Anna Hazare” to display the high esteem with which they held the image of the khadi clad activist.
Dinesh Joshi, the PhD student who spearheaded this event, was overwhelmed with the kind of response received, though he adds that more UG participation would have been appreciated. The idea for a protest, reflects Dinesh, was born out of the need to provide a platform for the dissenting and frustrated voices, who in other circumstances wouldn’t know where to turn to. Dinesh and three supporters publicised the event through posters and their Facebook page IITB Against Corruption and were then joined by a numerous others.
On Wednesday evening around 5.30 pm, students were mobilised according to a map that had been etched out earlier, with placards proclaiming ‘I am against corruption’ pinned on their shirts. People dismounting from TumTums were requested to join in the proceedings. Cameras captured the eager faces; in huge numbers, they lit candles and sat on the road in front of H10, where an effort was made to explain the various nuances of the Bill. The funding for the event, which amounted to around 12K, was pitched in by the organisers themselves. Out of this, 3.5 K has been pledged by volunteers.
When questions regarding the details of the actual Bill were posed to the passionate protesters, they got, more often than not, a nonplussed response, leading one to believe that people had waited for something like this for so long that the details didn’t matter anymore. Dinesh gleans the distinction, and therefore has also been on his heels sensitizing the masses about the Jan Lokpal Bill via posters put up in various hostels, and a presentation to be held in every hostel by volunteers for the cause. A website called Yuva Awaaz will soon be operational which will enumerate the points as well as give a voice to the student community on campus.
Also on the cards is a relay fast that will commence from today in front of the Gymkhana ground near H11, where people may congregate and skip a meal or two while holding a peaceful dharna. Dinesh also conveyed the possibility of distributing black ribbons and/or badges and making T-shirts with anti-corruption captions available for purchase. Volunteers will later also distribute pamphlets to people both inside and outside the campus so that the message is spread to as far as possible.
To know more about the Jan Lokpal Bill – Jan Lokpal: A brief summary
To read about readers’ opinion on the Peace March – Your Take: Human Chain@ IITB