The thin line between activism and hooliganism
Whether one supports the principles of Anna Hazare or not, there is no denying the movement has managed to strike a chord with people from almost every section of society.
However, a few high profile incidents on the streets of New Delhi may damage the cause of the activists.
Several incidents have been reported across the city which show that for some people, support for the movement is a licence for hooliganism and drunken driving.
A group of Anna Hazare supporters, apparently drunk, clashed with police late on Thursday outside the Ramlila Maidan, after they tried to force their way through the VIP entrance, local media said.
This is the second such reported incident after drunken protesters picked a fight with members of the media on Monday, and police refused to take action against them, citing orders not to hurt Hazare’s supporters.
Every evening, the streets of Delhi are filled with some flag-waving Hazare supporters riding cars with their heads hanging out of the windows, speeding past buses and other vehicles. Also, bikers are seen recklessly riding around India Gate, without helmets.
All wear caps made famous by Gandhi’s followers, which read “I am Anna”. And they are visibly drunk.
Delhi may not be the only victim.
A friend from Mumbai recently mentioned how she was not allowed to get down from a cab at her destination, just because she did not say, “I support Anna Hazare”. Similar incidents have been reported from other cities as well.
True that Hazare’s motive and his aim of abolishing corruption may be a good thing. A country where bribes are a part of life right from getting a child admitted to school to sealing a huge corporate deal — people are understandably fed up and have come out in large numbers to support the cause.
But is this movement also giving some the chance to bring out the Mr Hyde in them? Isn’t it diluting the whole movement? And more importantly, isn’t it justifying the Delhi Police’s argument that uncontrolled protests may lead to severe disruption in maintaining law and order?
This is probably why Kiran Bedi, a close aide of Hazare, urges protesters to remove any inebriated person from the protest site. Anna supporters need to make sure the agitation is not a safe haven for hooligans. They can’t risk becoming a laughing stock.