Today's non-violent Anna was an Army man

Yogita Limaye | Updated: April 9, 2011, 7:37 AM IST

Mumbai: Anna Hazare's fast unto death for the Lokpal Bill has taken the nation by storm. But the man at the centre of it all is no stranger to hunger strikes, protests against government and even serving a jail term.

Here's a look at his three decade long struggle against corruption.

Anna Hazare, a non-violent protestor today, was once an Army man, who served in the 1965 Indo Pak war.

Inspired later by Swami Vivekananda's book, Anna returned to his home town of Ralegaon Siddhi, in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra.

The village was drought prone, but Anna mobilised villagers and started a watershed development project. Soon the village turned self sufficient. It was Anna's first achievement, that's still a case study for students researching an ideal village.

Anna then shifted focus to fighting corruption and formed the Bhrashtrachar Virodhi Jan Andolan in 1991.

He first sat on hunger strike demanding the sacking of 42 forest officers accused of corruption. This was followed by many such strikes and protests.

Anna was jailed in 1998 following a defamation suit after he made allegations of corruptions against Shiv Sena ministers.

In 2003, two NCP ministers, Suresh Jain and Nawab Malik were forced to resign after Anna went on a indefinite hunger strike against their alleged corruption.

In the judicial inquiry that followed, allegations of financial irregularities were made against trusts run by Anna too.

Anna also kickstarted the campaign demanding the Right to Information Act and travelled across Maharashtra to create awareness. In August 2003, he sat on a 'do or die' fast and on the 12th day, the Maharashtra government got the Bill signed by the President of India.

Once again Anna went on hunger strike for the Jan Lokpal Bill and this time his protest being echoed nationwide.

For those making allegations of corruption against Anna, the people's voice is clear - this issue has transcended beyond Anna, the personality. It's the cause that counts.

First Published: April 9, 2011, 7:37 AM IST

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