India activist Anna Hazare ends hunger strike

Anna Hazare gestures during his hunger strike in Delhi, Friday, April 8, 2011 Anna Hazare said his success was a victory for the people of India

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Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare has ended a 96-hour hunger strike, after ministers agreed to all of his demands.

The 72-year-old campaigner is pushing for tough anti-corruption laws, and has gained huge public support.

He demanded that the committee drafting the new law be made up of activists as well as politicians. The government said it had agreed to the request.

In recent months India has been rocked by a string of corruption scandals.

A former telecom minister is awaiting trial after being accused of selling telecom licences off for a fraction of their value.

And Indians were shocked when allegations emerged that apartments in Mumbai intended for war widows were in fact given to civil servants.

Start Quote

There is no greater symbol of coercive non-violent protest in India than a fast”

End Quote Soutik Biswas

Last month the head of the country's anti-corruption watchdog was forced to resign by the Supreme Court on the grounds that he himself faced corruption charges.

Correspondents say Mr Hazare has rallied people across the country disillusioned with the recent spate of scandals - he is highly respected as a social activist with an untarnished reputation.

On Saturday, Mr Hazare broke his fast symbolically with a sip of lemonade, the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says.

Senior politicians including the governing Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi had urged Mr Hazare to give up his fast.

But he kept on going, and eventually persuaded the government to give in to his demands.

Supporters of Anna Hazare attend a candlelight protest march against corruption in front of India Gate in Delhi April 7, 2011 Thousands turned up to support Mr Hazare's campaign

The sticking point had been the make-up of a committee in charge of drafting the law.

The government had agreed to a 50-50 split between politicians and activists.

But Mr Hazare wanted the committee to be co-chaired, rather than just having an individual politician in charge.

Kapil Sibal, a federal minister who negotiated on behalf of the government, said a formal order would now be issued setting up the committee as Mr Hazare demanded.

"Whatever is required to be done will be done by June 30 so that the draft legislation is introduced in parliament," he said.

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