India corruption: Protests swell in support of Hazare

Supporters of Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare gather around lighted candles outside the Tihar prison in Delhi, 17 August 2011 Hundreds are keeping a vigil outside Delhi's Tihar prison, where Mr Hazare was taken on Tuesday

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Tens of thousands of Indians have poured onto streets across the country in support of the jailed anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare.

Hundreds are keeping a vigil outside the high-security prison in Delhi where Mr Hazare was taken on Tuesday.

At the capital's iconic India Gate, thousands shouted slogans and held placards demanding he be freed and that the government act on corruption.

Protests were held in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Calcutta and elsewhere.

The authorities had offered to free the 74-year-old but he refused to leave Tihar prison, where he has vowed to remain unless he can resume the public protest stopped by his arrest on Tuesday.

The campaigner and at least 1,200 of his supporters were arrested at the capital's JP Park, hours before he was due to begin his "fast unto death".

'Hail Mother India'

Outside the prison, many protesters carried the Indian flag and shouted "Down with corruption" and "Hail Mother India".

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder says thousands gathered outside Tihar jail

There were also reports of large demonstrations in Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bhubaneshwar and in the north-eastern state of Assam.

Supreme Court lawyers have announced they will march to show their support for Mr Hazare, while auto-rickshaw drivers have gone on strike.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has accused Mr Hazare of trying to circumvent democracy by demanding the overhaul of an anti-corruption bill.

The prime minister told parliament Mr Hazare's hunger strike was "totally misconceived", but his speech was constantly interrupted by opposition MPs, many of whom jeered and shouted "shame".

The spontaneous outbreak of public support is a matter of deep concern for Mr Singh's administration, says the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in the capital.

Anna Hazare Mr Hazare says the proposed anti-corruption ombudsman should be able to investigate any official

The Congress-led government denied it was stifling a democratic protest, saying the protesters had been detained because they had not accepted the police's restrictions on the number of fasting days and participants.

Indian Law Minister Salman Khurshid said the government respected the right to dissent, but told BBC World News that the rule of law also needed to be respected.

He also acknowledged that the bill at the centre of the corruption controversy as it stands is flawed.

'Cruel joke'

Mr Hazare is reported to have spent Tuesday night at one of the rooms in the administrative block of Tihar jail, where he was reportedly determined to continue to his hunger strike.

He has called the proposed anti-corruption legislation a "cruel joke" and has described the fight against corruption as the "second war of independence".

Dispute over Citizens' Ombudsman bill

  • Following a hunger strike by Anna Hazare in April, the government agreed to draft the Jan Lokpal (Citizens' Ombudsman) bill. The final bill incorporates 34 of the 40 principles set out by Mr Hazare, but he and other activists have rejected it
  • Mr Hazare says the ombudsman should have the power to investigate the prime minister and senior judges. The government refuses to include them, saying their authority will be eroded
  • Mr Hazare wants the ombudsman to be able to investigate MPs accused of taking bribes to vote or ask questions in parliament. The government says such probes should be carried out by MPs

In April, he called off a hunger strike after four days when the government said he could help draft legislation to create a special ombudsman, or lokpal, an independent body with the power to investigate politicians and civil servants suspected of corruption.

The final version of the bill was presented in early August, but Mr Hazare and other activists rejected it because the prime minister and senior judges would be exempt from scrutiny.

India has recently been hit by a string of high-profile corruption scandals including a telecoms bribery scam that may have cost the government $39bn (£23bn), alleged financial malpractice in connection with the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, and allegations that homes for war widows were diverted to civil servants.

Critics of the government say the scandals point to a pervasive culture of corruption in Mr Singh's administration.

A recent survey said corruption in Asia's third largest economy had cost billions of dollars and threatened to derail growth.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    @39 Felis Leo

    You clearly dont know what the Jan Lokpal bill is about. First Lokpal is just the prosecutor for any corruption issue...they are not the judge. They still have to go to court for the judgement and punishment to the accused. Is there is no question of difference in judgement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    #58. kp0074: U R not serious? What's UR problem? Assassinated her husband! Now, she should leave the country! She has dedicated her life to India. She has got every right as Indians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    now lokpal will be formed definately and also it is clear and practical truth that he will also be question is who should get more money will priminister or lokpal and also who should get more respect or control over government government want pm and anna teams want lokpal...........and..... indian people are dreaming ramavtar in janlokpal......and dispute cont...

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    India is a bomb with a lit slow fuse. The people will not be caste aside anymore. Tens of millions do not see any reasonable chance of change coming for them or their children. They have nothing left to lose ~ that is a desperate and dangerous position to put a man with a family in. The government of India needs to wake up before this bomb goes off and all is swept aside. Real change ~ NOW.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Indian Govt & the ruling party Congress now discovered a new theory and very old & favorite one to discredit Anna's movement- "Suspecting a "foreign" hand behind Anna Hazare's anti-graft movement, the Congress on Wednesday raised questions on the US' statement:

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    @john adams #61
    Mr. Adams, I would not throw stones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    it is open secret all politicians are currupt and practically no mp can be elected without curruption .......we are paying in thounds to our member of parliaments(mp) who represent at least 25 lac people each at the same time corporate companies having thousands of managers in their organisation are getting salleries in multiple lacs and some are getting salleries in crores , can any mp honest ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I say well done Mr Hazare. Do not in any conditions give up on your cause. All Indians are equal and in order to alleviate poverty, the government must be trasnparent

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    biggest democracy, yea ok

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Most of Indian politicians are corrupted in one or other way and that is the reason they are scared to pass strong and strick JAN LOKPAL bill. All politicians' and burocrates' (be in from Delhi or all other states of India) should be investigated by Strong Jan Lokpal. They all have 1000s of crores in Naami (Their own name) and Benaami(In other people's name). They looted mother India all the time

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    India now appears doing better than China in jailing human right
    activists (earlier Dr Sen, film director Seeman). The elected congress party has become cynic.

    Hope the Army will not be ordered to the streets in the name of safeguarding the Democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Current problem in India is Sonia, she should leave the country asap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    corrruption in India is everywhere , try getting a phone line or simple thing as a cab at the airport .You end paying 3-4 people for simple services which is nothing short of a bribe.Indians have acepted as a normal way of life and now we have politician who do the same except we are talking 6-7 figures .I think Hazarre is drawing a lot of attention which is good .High time !

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    "If the UPA [ruling parties] does not recognise the public anger against corruption, respect the ideals and values of democracy, and take steps to create a Lokpal that inspires confidence, there will be a political price to pay — perhaps well before the next general election." the editorial of the Hindu almost a day ago said it all!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Govt takes 8 months to arrest Kalmadi,1 year to arrest Raja.3 years to conviction Ajmal Kasab who has killed 200 people. The Maharastra Govt can shoot fleeing farmers from behind.. and now a super efficient system has realised that a 74 year old Anna Hazare can be a threat to the Nation and peace if he starts fasting so put him to Tihar Jail... This is really a CRUEL JOKE...

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    That Lokpal bill was long long ago overdue for India. The present Govt. if they have nothing to hide then they should pass the bill in FULL as demanded by Hazzare and not in some diluted form which will exclude judges and PM - it got to be ALL INCLUSIVE and which can be applied to ALL citizens. Our PM should realize in his mind that corruption eats away every fabric of any society and its future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    @ 34 Victor J
    My friend, I presume you have low IQ. Try to understand, Anna Hazare trying to change the very constitutional prerogative that gives chance to the offenders escape justice.
    Because both Parliamentarians & Judges are corrupt (and/or use delay tactic that might go on for decades), we ended-up in this sorry state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Many politicians are now trying to confuse people saying, LokPal Bill will not stop corruption.Yes, that's true. NO law in the world can ever stop crime 100%.
    But can any politician deny that Jan Lokpal bill will reduce corruption to a large extent, at least ~60%?
    Democracy does NOT start or even end in parliament, but with people. People are now voicing what THEY want in the streets of India.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    The protest is a bit misconceived and PM is right in this respect. It is neither he nor his govt who are not keen to get such a bill passed. In fact the PM, in his capacity as Oppn leader, some 10 years ago, had written for a requirement of such a Legislation. The protest is about the version of the Bill. Anna's version is overdone and he wants it passed just that way or no way - meaning no debate


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