But the movement was not without its share of hiccups. Controversy erupted over the use of an image of Bharat Mata as the stage backdrop at the Ramlila Maidan when many saw it as proof that the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had overtaken the movement. Very few actually knew that the backdrop had been made by Javed Khan, a designer from the non governmental organization (NGO) Kabir, run by activist Manish Sisodia, who later became the deputy chief minister of Delhi. Khan recalls, 'When I designed the backdrop, I didn't think of it from a religious angle. The cause was for the nation and Bharat Mata is a symbol of that. I didn't know it would end up [becoming] a controversy.'
Anna finally ended his fast on 9 April, after the government issued a gazette notification accepting the movement's demands that civil society members be a part of the Jan Lokpal draft committee. Anna also gave the government an ultimatum: If the bill was not passed before 15 August, he would go on an indefinite fast once again.
As I was on a month's leave from my job to prepare for my GRE, I volunteered to work for the IAC movement to keep the interest in the bill alive, and was entrusted with the responsibility of checking the official email, which had received around 8,000 emails from people across the globe. I shared with Chauhan pictures that people had shared of similar events organized at different places across the world and, between April and August, we tried to spread the message about the Lokpal Bill to a wider audience by organizing multiple online Q&A sessions with Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan. Inspired by the movement in Delhi, people started creating Facebook pages for their respective cities - IAC Mumbai, IAC Bangalore and IAC Chennai etc. - and Chauhan took control of them, helping people in various cities to connect and spread word about the movement. Kumar Vishwas was another regular contributor; he had effectively used Facebook, Orkut and YouTube to build his own brand as a poet, and he understood the power of social media.
On 16 August, Anna was arrested at his residence in Mayur Vihar - a move that shocked people following the movement. Kejriwal and Sisodia were arrested as well. Angry protestors gathered in large numbers outside Tihar Jail, and the atmosphere was electrifying. There were a lot of protest songs sung, and Jagdeep Singh - who later went on to become the AAP MLA from Hari Nagar - played his dholak almost continuously for two days, demanding the release of Anna Hazare and the others. Finally, Kejriwal and Sisodia were released on 18 August, and Anna Hazare the next day. On 20 August, right aft er his release, Anna began his 'fast-unto-death' at Ramlila Maidan, which would go on to last for 13 days, and shake the very foundations of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II government.
Excerpted with permission of Hachette India from India Social by Ankit Lal. Order your copy here.
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