Tribune News Service
Amritsar, March 31. Anti-corruption crusader and social activist Anna Hazare today embarked on “Jantantra Yatra” after paying homage to the martyrs at the Jallianwalla Bagh while dubbing it as the “second freedom struggle” and vowing that they will not let the sacrifices of martyrs go waste.
Anna set out on his one-and-a-half year campaign after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and the Durgiana Mandir along with his group of supporters here this morning.
Addressing a gathering from atop a specially designed vehicle in front of the Jallianwalla Bagh, Anna said though the British have left, India continued to suffer from ills like corruption, hooliganism and lootings even today.
“The country may have got freedom, but it seems the Whites have been replaced by the Blacks”, he said adding they would follow the path of non-violence during the campaign while reiterating that they will neither contest nor support any party in the forthcoming General Elections.
Anna said they will sensitise people and seek their views on the issues confronting the country during their campaign from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. “I know a large number of people are in deep slumber, but we hope to wake them up and mobilise support for our campaign. I don’t know how many of the people will come forward, but we are optimistic that we will be able to garner the support of around six crore people over the next one-and-a-half years. If we succeed in our aim, the government will have to bow before the ‘Jan Shakti’ (people’s power) and frame laws and policies in the interest of the common man.”
He made a fervent appeal to the people to join the “Jantantra Yatra” which will support the candidates with clean image and proven track record in the next Lok Sabha elections. Dwelling on the current political scenario, Anna asked, “What future can the country have when 163 members in the Parliament have criminal past and 15 ministers of the Union government are tainted?”
He warned that those at the helm of affairs would have to bring in Jan Lokpal Bill and initiate electoral reforms like the ‘Right to Reject’ to stay in power or else the people will vote them out. Accompanied by former Army Chief General V K Singh, he proceeded towards Jalandhar in a cavalcade of six vehicles.
Earlier, reacting to Operation Bluestar after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple, Anna said only “ignorant people” could attack such a pious place which spreads the message of peace and communal harmony. He also stated that the culprits of 1984 anti-Sikh riots will be punished one day.
The SGPC presented him a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) and a set of books. Anna was virtually in tears while paying tributes to the martyrs at the Jallianwalla Bagh.
Meanwhile, Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma met Anna Hazare in the morning. State BJP vice-president Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina said Sharma reached Amritsar when he came to know about Anna’s visit.