New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS): Civil society activist Anna Hazare said on Friday that he would not leave the Ramlila ground till the demand for a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal bill was met.
"We will not leave this place till the (stronger) Lokpal Bill is passed," Hazare told crowds soon after reaching Ramlila ground in central Delhi where he will continue his fast.
Calling upon the youth to be the flag-bearers of change, Hazare said they should carry forward the torch of revolution even if he were not there. "The power of youth is the power of the nation, whether or not Anna Hazare is there or not. This torch of revolution should always remain lit," he said.
The activist reached the Ramlila ground around 2 pm, after visiting Mahatma Gandhi's memorial at Rajghat and India Gate.
The Gandhian started his fast on Tuesday, when he was arrested and sent to Tihar Jail. He was later released but continued to be in jail, insisting that he would not leave till he was allowed to fast without any fetters.
Thousands throng Ramlila Ground: Thousands of people, many of them school children, thronged the Ramlila Ground on Friday despite rains to support social activist Anna Hazare in his fight for a stringent anti-corruption law.
With the many Tricolours, patriotic songs playing in the background and loud slogans and the sun playing hide and seek, it was like a carnival at the sprawling ground in central Delhi where Hazare will continue his fast that began on Tuesday.
There were cheers and hail Anna slogans as the announcement was made that Hazare had left Tihar Jail after three days and would slowly make his way to the Ramlila ground, via Mahatma Gandhi's memorial Rajghat and India Gate.
There were hundreds of school children in the crowd, some who had bunked their classes to come out in support of the 74-year-old Hazare.
"I have come here to support Annaji and we will get the civil society version of Lokpal bill passed come what may," said Prateek Babar, a student of Rajkiya Sarvodya Vidhyalaya School in west Delhi.
As it started pouring heavily, some people started dancing.
"When the government could not stop us, this downpour is nothing. I am here to witness history in the making," said Rehan Singh, a Class 9 student who had a tricolour painted on his face.
Authorities looked worried though.
"The marquee put up at the Ramlila ground is not waterproof. The ground is already wet. If it rains more, it will be difficult to handle," said Deputy Mayor Anil Sharma.
Kiran Bedi, who was overseeing the arrangements at Ramlila Ground, made regular requests to people to maintain calm and peace and wait for Hazare, who is expected to reach around 2 p.m. after paying tributes at Rajghat and India Gate.
Hazare had planned to begin his fast for a stronger Lokpal Bill at the J.P. Park in the ITO area here Tuesday.
Delhi Police imposed certain conditions before the protest could be allowed. Hazare refused to agree, after which the police detained him and his associates Tuesday.
He was sent to Tihar Jail and was subsequently released Tuesday night, but refused to leave the prison until he was allowed to carry on the fast without any conditions.
Hazare started with his fast Aug 16 inside Tihar Jail.