Power Situation during 1985-86 became extremely critical. The farmers were unable to lift water from the wells in spite of its availability due to insufficient voltage to run pumps. The motors were getting burnt due to fluctuations and the crops were getting affected. There was scant response from the Government in spite of continuous follow-up. On 28th Nov. 1989 Mr. Hazare was forced to undertake fast for seeking redressal. After 8 days of his fast , his health deteriorated and was admitted in the civil hospital at Ahmednagar.
As there was, no response in spite of action from his side, the farmers from three tehsils became furious and they started road block agitation. Fearing that if the agitation takes a wrong turn, something untoward may take place. He appealed to the agitators from the hospital bed that they should not resort to unfair means, damage the national property and inflict any harm to the passengers. The agitation should be peaceful. The police authorities did not expect huge participation and there was meager police force available.
However, they were proved wrong and more than 10000 men and 1200 women participated in the agitation. The agitators had offered police to take them to jail. However, since enough transport was not available with the police, the police tried to remove the road block. Due to improper treatment meted out to the agitators, there was scuffle between police and the agitators and the police resorted to lathi-charged on agitators. This action on the part of police irritated them and they pelted stones on the police force. Since the situation was going out of control, additional force was called and police opened fire on the agitators in which 4 farmers died on the spot and 7 farmers sustained severe injuries. He felt sad on hearing this news in the hospital. The agitation was meant for awakening the government and there is no harm in carrying out such agitations in democracy. He had decided to end his life during the fast itself, but Senior Officials of the government and even Ministers persuaded him to give up his fast as they feared that if agitation continues, lot many farmers may lose their life and in order to save the life of innocent farmers, he withdrew his fast.
Model Village as contemplated by Gandhiji was brought in reality by Shri Annaji at Ralegan Siddhi by his dedication. “Late Shri Achyutrao Patwardhan, the great freedom fighter, suggested to the government of Maharashtra that to commemorate the golden jubilee of Bharat Chhodo Andolan, it would be most befitting to create model villages like Ralegan Siddhi in every tehsil of the state. The government accepted this suggestion and declared to implement “Adarsh Gaon Yojana”. The Government entrusted this responsibility to him and Adarsha Gaon Yojana was started under his leadership . He travelled whole of Maharashtra and selected 300 villages to implement this scheme. While working in this scheme, he realized that development is getting hampered due to planned corruption in Government machinery and he decided to fight against this corruption. He gave evidence against two ministers who had amassed wealth disproportionate to their income. However since the Government was passive about this he started agitation and undertook fast for l0 days. Chief Minister intervened and he deleted these two ministers from ministry and appointed an Inquiry Commission. The Commission held both the ministers guilty but to save them the Government appointed another commission who discharged them from the allegations. Though the ministers were discharged from the allegations, they had to loose their minister ship which is the success of Mr.Hazare's agitation.
Mr.Hazare's gave evidence of corruption by Social Welfare Minister to the then Chief Minister. On 3lst July l999 the Chief Minister informed him that inquiry is being instituted about the charges leveled by him. He had given an interview to a local daily regarding this inquiry and based on this interview the concerned minister had filed a case in the court against Mr.Hazare for defamation. He was held guilty by the Court and the court had asked him to give an undertaking that he will not make such allegations in future.He refused to give such undertaking and preferred to go jail for 3 months as ordered by the court. He told the court that He was willing to give his life for truth. His punishment created commotion in public and scores of people started visiting Yerawada Jail.
He wanted to complete his jail term but to give respect to the public feelings he accepted his release. Gandhji had told the court that if court feels that his actions for the freedom of the country are considered as anti government activities he was willing to undergo any punishment .Similarly he did not give bond to the court and accpeted punishment. He did not prefer any appeal against the court order immediately but due to public pressure he later made an appeal which was upheld by the Higher Court and rejected the suit of minister. Mr. Hazare asked the Government to conduct the inquiry against the minister which is still on.
In the regime of coalition Government of Congress and National Congress Party, He had forwarded evidence of corruption about 4 ministers and had asked the Government to conduct inquiry. One of the ministers had made allegations about corruption in the institutions in which he was associated. Since there was no action from the Government. he undertook fast for 9 days in August 2003 at Azad Maidan. The minister concerned also started agitation at Azaj Maidan in Mumbai. At last the Government relented and Retired Suprement Court Judge Shri P.B. Sawant was appointed to conduct the inquiry. The commission conducted the inquiry and sent its report to Government on 22nd February .
In the report the commission had observed ministers guilty and had held Mr.Hazare also guilty for irregularities but not a single charge of corruption was proved against him. Mr. Hazare has offered the Government that it should take action against him as well as the ministers based on the findings of the enquiry commission.Though Government has not taken any action on the Commission's report three ministers had to go and this is a big achievement of his agitation against corruption.
He felt that corruption will not stop merely by taking action against a few officers and ministers and it is necessary that a change should be brought about in the system, He believes that unless decentralization of power takes place the system will not change.In order to bring change in the system he felt that information should be made available to people regarding Government's actions which was not being provided to people on the ground of secracy. Here again he decided to follow Gandhiji's path and started Maun Vrat and later fast unto death. This brought pressure on the Government and both the Central as well as State Governments have enacted Right to Information Act. His whole life and work is based on Gandhian philosophy.
Alcohol has ruined many families in rural India. The existing laws did not have teeth to ban the sale of alcohol in villages. So he decided to press the government to make a law for prohibition if 50% women demanded for it. Ultimately, women are the most affected lot if their husbands are drunkards.
By the new Act, the women of any village can collectively demand for ban on sale of alcoholic drinks in the village. If a minimum of 50% of women complain to the District Collector about their sufferings and request for total prohibition in the village, the Collector can hold ballot paper election in the village. There will be two signs on the paper – one being a bottle in standing position and another being in a horizontal position. The women will cast their votes. In the evening, the votes will be counted. If more votes are in favour of ‘horizontal bottle’, then the Collector will ban the sale of alcoholic drinks in the village and cancel the license of the seller.
In many villages, the licenses have been cancelled and total prohibition came into reality after this Act. In some villages, the alcohol sellers have manipulated the election with money power.
Anyhow, this Act has supported and strengthened the women. Women have become empowered due to this act and became fearless to come in open against the alcoholism. This Act has helped in organizing the women and fight against evils for a common good. Women’s empowerment is the need of the day.
Pic and news source: annahazare.org
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