NEW DELHI: On the first day one of his protest, the agitation of social activist Anna Hazare witnessed the participation of about 5,000-6,000 people, mainly from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Assam. He started an indefinite fast on March 23 against the Narendra Modi led Central government and pressed for setting up a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states to probe corruption cases. He is also pressing in to bring in new electoral reforms and implementation of the MS Swaminathan Committee report to address the agrarian crisis in the country.
Hitting out at the Centre, Anna said that he wrote several letters to the PM but got no reply from the government. "I have written 43 letters to the Modi government in the last four years but did not get any reply. So I have been forced to sit on an indefinite fast," he said after starting his hunger strike at the Ramlila Maidan on Friday.
Anna said Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and some ministers from Maharashtra met him on Thursday and gave some assurances but he does not trust them. "They said the government will look into our concerns. But I said I don't trust you. How many promises have you fulfilled so far? Nothing," he said.
He also said that he will hold discussions with the government but will continue his indefinite hunger strike - 'Satyagraha' till the government comes out with a 'concrete action plan'.
Speaking on the agrarian distress in the country, Anna said farmers are not getting their due. "The farmers in the country are in distress as they are not getting remunerative prices and the government is not acting to ensure fair prices," he said. He added that the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), which decides prices for 23 crops, should be made autonomous for fair price fixation.
Holding the Modi government responsible for low participation, he said that the Centre is not letting people join his protest. "You cancelled trains carrying protesters to Delhi, you want to push them to violence. Police force deployed for me as well. I wrote in many letters that I don't need police protection. Your protection won't save me. This sly attitude of the government is not done," Hazare said.
Echoing his views, some farmers claimed that the police stopped them from boarding trains. A Maharashtra farmer from Ahmednagar, Popatrao Sathe, said people from his area were not allowed to board the train by police at Bhusawal on Thursday night. Some farmers said they dodged the police and made it to Delhi. "We removed all banners from the buses we were in and remained quiet throughout the journey. Police let us go assuming we were regular passengers," said Kanaihya Sharma, a farmer from Jaipur.
Rakesh Pegu from Assam's Madhuli said he was compelled to participate in the agitation as the livelihood of farmers was at risk due to consistent incidences of price fall.