Fast forward, 1980 to 2011

1 day in 1980

Where: Ahmadnagar Zilla Parishad

Why: For recognition of village school

Anna Hazare's first protest fast came five years after he had left the Army and returned home. It was for the Shri Sant Nikolbarai Vidyalaya, the school he had started with villagers. It had 179 students, 42 of them living in hostel rooms built by villagers, but the zilla parishad had refused to recognise it. This meant that the first batch of Std X students had to write their board exams from Ranjangaon. To correct this, Hazare fasted in front of the zilla parishad office in Ahmadnagar, joined by many villagers from Ralegan Siddhi. The administration yielded, bringing the school under the SSC Board.

2 days from June 7, 1983

Where: Yadavbaba Mandir, Ralegan Siddhi

Why: Against "indifference" to village projects

Hazare and villagers had organised a mass wedding of 15 couples, one of various projects in a 20-point development programme. They expected 10,000 guests and sought two tankers of drinking water; the district administration sent half a tanker. With other projects too having met with adminsitrative indifference, Hazare began fasting in the village but found no response. On the second day, about 300 villagers took out a morcha in Parner district and blockaded the Pune-Nagar highway. District officials rushed to Hazare and promised to expedite permission and work required for all projects at Ralegan Siddhi. Hazare broke his fast with lime juice from the hands of the oldest villager, Champabai Gadkar, and chairman of the Sant Yadavbaba Educational Society Bhausaheb Auti.

5 days from Feburary 20, 1989

Where: Yadavbaba Mandir, Ralegan Siddhi

Why: For farmers' subsidy

Hazare wanted farmers to experiment with papaya cultivation using a then 50 per cent subsidy scheme for drip irrigation. The government said the subsidy was not for intermittent cultivations or new experiments. Hazare wrote to then chief minister Sharad Pawar that he was going away on a one-month break, wrote a book based on his experiments, and returned to find that the government had not taken action. As he had vowed in his letter to Pawar, he launched a fast unto death. Villagers joined him, Pune's who's who rushed to him, and a few of his aides went to Mumbai to meet ministers. The government bowed; the then agriculture minister announced Hazare's demands had been agreed. On the fourth day Hazare developed kidney trouble. On the fifth, guardian minister Madhukar Pichad went to Ralegan with a letter that all demands had been met. Hazare broke his fast.

... contd.

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