New Delhi: Civil rights activist Anna Hazare on Friday set foot on the historic Ramlila Ground to take forward his battle against corruption, after he spent three days at Tihar jail.
After thanking his supporters for their unwavering support to his movement, Anna said, “Till Jan Lokpal Bill is passed, we will not leave Ramlila Ground.”
“We are not fighting for Lokpal but to bring a change in the country, he said adding, “Never let the fire die down whether I am there or not.”
Anna’s procession reached Ramlila Ground nearly two hours after it started from the jail, covering a distance of about five kilometres to Mayapuri and then reaching Rajghat.
At the Gandhi’s samadhi, Hazare paid obeisance to Mahatma Gandhi before proceeding to Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate. From there, his cavalcade finally arrived at Ramlila ground, the protest venue.
Earlier, minutes after Anna walked out of Tihar Jail, he told hundreds of his delighted supporters that his campaign for a strong anti-corruption legislation will continue till he is alive.
“The fight against corruption is still not over. Despite 64 years of our country’s independence, we have still not achieved complete freedom. Our struggle is incomplete till corruption is completely wiped out,” Anna told a madding sea of his supporters, who had gathered outside the Tihar jail to see a glimpse of the Gandhian leader.
In his brief address to his supporters, which started with his chanting of ‘Vande Matram’ the social crusader said, “It does not matter whether I am alive or dead, the fight against corruption should not stop under any circumstances. If you are with us then come and join me at the Ramlila Ground and strengthen my hands.”
Just past the gates, he addressed the crowd, raising his hand to the air and shouting "Victory to Mother India", before slowly winding his way in a truck decorated with flags through massive crowds.
Anna urged his supporters to make sure that the torch of the movement against corruption is not extinguished. He said that India gained freedom in 1947, but the freedom movement began long time back meaning that the march to end corruption will be a long drawn one.
"The fight is far from over, it has just begun," he concluded.
The 74-year-old Gandhian activist, who is on fast for the fourth day, had spent the last three nights in Tihar Jail.
Looking fit on his fourth day of fast, Anna was escorted by police officials, as he came out of the Tihar jail and mounted on a small podium erected just outside one of the gates of the prison that was his home for over 67 hours.
He had refused to come out of the jail on Tuesday despite government ordering his unconditional release after his arrest in the morning to foil his indefinite hunger strike.
In the short speech, he declared that his campaign was aimed at making the country corruption-free.
Before getting on to a mini-truck heading a procession for a short distance, he appealed to his supporters not to indulge in violence or damage public property.
Flanked by his aides Arvind Kejriwal and Suresh Pathare, the Gandhian also invited them to join his protest that he would begin from the historic Ramlila grounds.
Anna’s cavalcade was greeted by heavy rains as it commenced from Tihar Jail and marched towards Ramlila ground via Rajghat.
Hazare supporters accompanied the procession waving the tri-colour while he accepted greetings from people gathered on either side of the road in West Delhi.
The improvised vehicle had a huge umbrella to protect Hazare and his close aides from the pounding rain. Apart from walking along with Hazare`s vehicle, the supporters followed
him on bikes, jeeps and cars.
The procession affected vehicular traffic in and around the Tihar prison premises including in Janakpuri, Mayapuri and Hari Nagar in West Delhi.
A restless Hazare was greeted by the supporters with garlands and bouquets at various intersections en-route his procession which was marked by chants of `Anna` and "Vande
Children, housewives and others were seen standing on their balconies and rooftops to have a glimpse of Hazare and the procession.
Supporters also thronged other three venues -- Rajghat, India Gate and Ramlila Maidan -- where the Gandhian will visit.
Protesters expressed happiness over the Gandhian`s decision to come out from the prison complex following rounds of negotiations with the police and authorities to decide on agitation venue to undertake hunger strike.
Meanwhile, elaborate security arrangements have been put in place by Delhi Police to avoid any untoward incidents and last minute preparations are still on at the Ramlila Ground under the supervision of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for Anna’s agitation.