Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lokpal agitation: In 2 days, 68000 sign up to go to jail (ToI)

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Anna wants to know if you're willing to go to prison. And 68,000 people and counting have volunteered in the last two days. As the countdown to Team Anna's third fast this year draws close, his team has unleashed a campaign spanning new technology and social media getting people to register, join the protest in Mumbai or just spread the word.

While activist Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi will be present in Mumbai, Prashant Bhushan is expected to hold fort in Delhi. This time few members of the core team will sit on fast with Anna.

Consider this: over 60,776 people across the country have already registered on the website jailchalo.com to be part of the jail bharo andolan. About 7,000 people have responded on the toll free helpline and registered themselves through smses and IVR and over 19,000 faxes have been sent to parliamentarians in support of the Jan Lokpal bill.

The jail bharo campaign was started by the Mumbai chapter of the India Against Corruption movement and had registered about 37,000 people till Friday night. "The number has more than doubled. The response has been overwhelming," a Team Anna member said on Saturday.

The campaign is being cross promoted on IAC's social media pages. In fact one of the pages even has legal advice on what being arrested in an agitation of this kind mean and whether being detained can affect a person's job prospects or visa application.

The fax campaign was kickstarted by global organization avaaz.org that has been associated with the Anna campaign. Over 19,000 faxes have been sent to about 40 senior political leaders between Thursday and Friday including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, PM Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, cabinet ministers and senior leaders from all major political parties.

The text of the fax says, "Without the independence to investigate and prosecute those who are suspected of corruption, Jan Lokpal stands to become a toothless bill. The CBI must stay within the purview of the Lokpal so as not to weaken the Lokpal Committee's ability to tackle corruption in any substantive way."

Sent to 8 lakh registered users the fax said, "We are so close to passing the most powerful anti-corruption bill that India's ever seen - and delivering anything less will be a betrayal of your promises to millions of Indians." The group also plans to send another set of letters to all MPs with a sharp critique of the government's Lokpal draft just before the special session in Parliament.

A core committee member said this would be supplemented by street plays, dharnas, candle-light marches and rallies across the country.

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