Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Round One to Anna on FB, Twitter, Google Plus

 
New Delhi: Was the government justified in swooping down on Anna Hazare and his followers just hours before he was set to embark on a public hunger strike certain to embarrass the scandal-plagued government?
Social media thinks not.
The social activist's indefinite fast and subsequent incarceration on Tuesday won him the first round of a social networking offensive with his cause garnering support from thousands of outraged internet users.
Hazare, who was arrested for planning a public hunger strike, began his fast behind bars as his supporters held protests across the country, with thousands detained by police.
People posted status messages, created 'Support Anna Hazare' pictorial badges and shared links on Facebook, tweeted and retweeted, and commented on news links on Google Plus.
If the crackdown on Hazare's supporters sent shockwaves down timelines, the release of 1500 of his followers by police was met with cheers and congratulatory messages.
Social activists Kiran Bedi and Shanti Bhushan were arrested but later released by police while Hazare's supporters Manish Sisodia, Arvind Kejriwal, Darshak, Radheshyam, Suresh Pathare, Naveen Jaisingh and Dada Phatare sent to judicial custody.
India Against Corruption, a website supporting Hazare's demand for tougher anti-corruption laws on India's scandal-plagued government, posted on Facebook "Anna Hazare fasts in Tihar jail, Arvind Kejriwal also refuses to eat. Anshan (fast) is on in Tihar."
User Ishoo Gupta commented on Facebook "Its outrageous! Is this the country where we say that we've the rite to express r views? I've a serious doubt ppl!" Srijan Konwar's was the lone dissenting voice in a stream of pro-Hazare comments on Facebook.
"Anna Hazare's cause is a good one but seriously wat the hell is he going to achieve by doing all these fasts. The fact is that it’s a even bigger nuisance for the people who has to go to work and these protests are causing traffics jams and other such hassles..." Konwar said.
But the mood across Facebook and Twitter timelines was a mix of anxious apprehension, feisty enthusiasm and idle curiosity. Those who did not subscribe to Hazare's method of forcing the government to tackle inherent corruption, posted discussion threads on Facebook looking to start a debate on the contentious issue.
Gurpreet Kaur on Twitter said "Never expected dat gov.would take such a ridiculous action against such a noble man....fundamental rights are meant for what,if ppl cant evn express in a peaceful way."
Kiran Bedi (Twitter: thekiranbedi) live tweeted her arrest and the events leading up to it from the scene of protest. "If the Delhi police picks up courage to permit Anna the fate of India's corrupt will change. They will either give up or give in," she tweeted.
Her followers promptly retweeted and were even guided by her to the website of India Against Corruption. "If Delhi Police has courage to permit the Fast, fate of india's corrupt will change overnight. They will give up or give in," Bedi said.
But things took an unusual turn in Mumbai when activists who courted arrest simply refused to step off a police van even after they were released.
Activist Sapna Bhavnani tweeted "At the police station. Jai hind." So far so good. But the next tweet said it all.
"Police tried to abandon us at mahalaxmi station. We fought n got back in the van!"
Hazare's cause found supporters in Bollywood as well, with actor Ranganathan Madhavan tweeting “This move and method of preventing AnnaHazare is in my opinion most foolish and silly high handed act by the authorities. Big Mistake.”
Sankaran Sivaramakrishnan on Google Plus said "thats a Joke... Anna hazare and his supporters would lead to breach of peace. Its all written on the faces of all these UPA ministers..their fear of getting caught."
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