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
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    Comment number 130.

    Death by starvation is suicide. Suicide is illegal. But they should have let him lose a few pounds before arresting him.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 129.

    India under Sonia's guidance has become as evil as China; supporting genocidal regimes in Srilanka, Burma and committing human rights violations in its own country. Time for that evil women to be kicked out of the country!!!!

  • Comment number 128.

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

  • rate this
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    Comment number 127.

    Corruption is common also in China. It is almost impossible to get even a simple thing done without bribery, and a pervasive culture of corruption has been established for quite a long history. Just like India as a developing country still lack of excellent legislation rules, I think corruption is a problem for all developing countries and we still have a long way to go.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 126.

    It is for the first time in last few decades that there is no social division based on caste, creed or colour, which is used by politicians. Now, there are only two groups- 1) People those want to remove corruption, and 2) People those are beneficiaries of current practices.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 125.

    Auto-rickshaw drivers protesting with the esteemed Mr. Hazare on corruption. This is laughable ... Auto-rickshaw drivers are the bastion of corruption at the ground level in India. I hope Mr. Hazare comes after these guys at some point of time.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 124.

    Quite a few Indians here are blaming the people at the bottom, but they miss the whole point. I agree people are corrupt, but any society can only truly change for the better, with change from the top. If there is no change from the top, what hope is there for the bottom?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 123.

    Where is our anti-corruption ombudsman?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 122.

    At a time when non-violence is being mocked at everywhere, it's amazing to see how a hell bent government can not withstand the forces of non-violence! Now I better understand what Gandhi must have done way back in the British time. Basically, when your movement is non-violent, you take away the biggest weapon out of your opposition, which is the POWER. Anna, I salute you!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 121.

    Although one does not believe in the cause or need to hold a protest for a stronger law on Ombudsman, not to allow one is an assault on democratic values. The corruption is all pervading in India and when it is a question of cheating the govt the vast majority are involved. But it is an infraction of truth that the govt lost $39 billion due to corruption which is based on flawed arithmetic.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 120.

    good on the people of india another country standing up for their rights but I cant help but think our media choice feeds us info on other countries that are doing the same they just don't get the true media attention they deserve so many people are dying get with media its a disgrace where's the freedom for us??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UNLOCK THE MEDIA COZ WE CANT STAND YA!!!!!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 119.

    Every single Indian sub-continent government servant collects bribe. Without bribe or any kind of value added compensation, nothing works. It’s a plagued govt.system where nothing works without money; It’s cultural flaw, It has to change from bottom level, not by removing top. Whatever happening is a political stunt

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 118.

    I feel like I am reading about Myanmar or China. It doesn't seems like India. Our PM is telling us, he will address corruption. Shame on you Manmohan Singh.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 117.

    My recent visit to India has convinced me it is one of the most corrupt nations in the world and the politicians are there to line their own pockets. I have known wills altered, property titles changed without the knowledge of the owner, blackmoney used to buy flats, lawyers and judges can easily be bought, and even bank managers are not exempt from corruption.

  • Comment number 116.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 115.

    Similarity between "Manmohan and corruption" and "Pakistan and Terrorism".

    Our PM Mr. Manmohan Singh is as much sincere fighting against corruption as Pakistan is fighting against terrorism.

    Our congressman and ministers keep telling people that PM is an honest man same way as Pakistan kept telling to the world that Osama is not in Pakistan.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 114.

    Our PM Mr. Manmohan Singh is as much sincere fighting against corruption as Pakistan is fighting against terrorism.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 113.

    I do lots of business with India and currently there. She is corrupt to the core and everyone knows it, from the lowest to the highest. Same as Pak, Africa & others. So called 1st world countries are corrupt, but no where near to same extent. She needs to tackle corruption to get further. She's growing rapidly, but the benefits of low cost are dimminishing and corruption is a real offputter.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 112.

    Let's look at a very simple example of corruption in India: Everybody knows that when you buy a new flat/ house etc, you pay some amount usually 40% in cash [known as black money]. All that cash then becomes unaccounted for. We don't even realise that we are supporting corruption this way. Jacko's
    "Man in the mirror" needs to be the national anthem for Indians!

  • Comment number 111.

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

 

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