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 50.

    I hold Anna in the highest regard.This is not just an overwhelming support in India, there have been shows of support throughout the world by the Indian diaspora. Imagine one of the images of India you always think about is a corrupt nation; too trivial? then imagine you are among the 30 odd percent who live in poverty hardly making ends meet, living in a corrupt apathetic system of governance

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Great that he is galvanising people BUT what about each one of us? We the citizens are the ones paying bribes to get out of paying a traffic ticket, or to make our paperwork move in some gov't office, or paying "donation" to get into a good college. Nice to suppor in theory but unless we change our behavior nothing will change. The gov't and officials are CORRUPT & each one of us is corrupt too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    I am truly amazed by the support shown by people for my dear Annaji. As a Indian i know how necessary it is else our future is so bleak.
    Our Govt promises lot of thing since 5 years i am hearing my PM that he will control inflation rather he did nothing except words..

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Mr.Singh is NOT the king and is certainly feeling threatened and insecure by this protest. Poor PM, he is a mere pawn in the hands of Sonia the queen of the jungle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    The British abandoned India into the hands of a corrupt ruling class that has looted the country since the 1940s. The political and business elites in India are not the heirs of Gandhi - Hazare is. The fight for true Indian independence from its babus continues through Hazare and others. As an Englishman who feels shame at his country's betrayal of India at independence, I wish Hazare well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Every sitting MP feels as if he is not one from the civil society, the media says they have covered the movement so its been hyped, "Team Anna" is been targeted on issues like who gives them the right to represent the civil society. Common guys, are why are you forgetting the reason for this movement CORRUPTION, I think, don't bring down this effort, just by making your point, lets fight together!

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    In the past, most top world leaders respected PM Manmohan Singh in world forums but that perception surely evaporating & emptying as of now. Probably, his share could be few million dollars from corruption but surely he allowed his ministers to undertake malpractice of multi Billion Dollar worth.
    Am not sure, any G8 leader now, who would opt to sit beside Manmohan Singh even for photo secession.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    In reality, corruption increased leaps and bounds after 1991 economic liberalization as foreign corporations joined Indian companies in the loot along with two other parties who used to that loot before 1991 (Govt babus and politicians). Indian Govt never even tried to reform ANY of the national institutions, including judiciary, never passed the ineffective version of Lokpal Bill in last 42 yr.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Corruption is indefensible. However, "the realities are socially constructed. The way people think and talk about realities affect agendas. policies, laws and the ways laws are implemented." We have jointly created this reality and we must modify it. But then if people decide to go on huger strike for potable water, access to power, cleaner toilets and so on, will the work get done? I wonder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    The government don't have rights to stop common man hunger strike in present situation because people supporting them.i whould like to say to the government please accept the pleasant way to be peace.otherwise the action will take by people .the government have to go first option .otherwise the government loose there position.
    stop Anna Hazare.I LOVE INDIA(flag:in)

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The strength of our democracy depends on the strength of our institutions. Has anyone thought what will happen if the Jan Lokpal and the Judiciary differ in their judgments? Who will resolve the conflict? Second, is India corrupt because of corrupt PMs and corrupt Chief Justices? If your answer is no, then how can including them in the Lokpal remove corruption? A weak law can kill our democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    This is the kind of protest which India needs today. Because year by year corruption is getting stronger in India. Everything is getting converted into bribery. This is the time where each Indian can make his protest against corruption. Government should pass the draft of lokpal, I had pearsonaly readied the draft online and there are no cons. Thanx annaji for making sleepen janta awake. Hats of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    The government’s shoddy handling of the situation shows the 60 odd years of inertia that the whole corruption issue is in. It took a credible voice like Anna Hazare - a Gandhian who has lived his life by the Gandhian code – to rally the nation and give them hope that their voice matters and all is not lost. The government is totally out of touch with the situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    I am Against Corruption. Are you?
    See the whole life right from admitting a pregnant for delivery to childs birth cert, school good school admission topassing with colors, residence certificate for college admission to getting employment, and for even getting pension for the service done. We took corruption to our blood. Dept like municipality, hospital, defence are on the verge lets act.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    India is seething with anger against the corrupt central government. The anti-government sentiments are spreading across the country, from schools to courts, from young to old, everyone is against the attitude of the government, who is hell bent not to nail the corrupt politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    @BluesBerry,No one supports corruption. PM & judges ( constitutional appointments) are answerable to the parliament and should not be answerable to to any one who is appointed (read Lokpal). Parliament should be the sole body that can investigate/impeach/remove them. We, the people can remove any elected representative through elections. Democracy-not the ideal, but the best system we got.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Even the british were not so cruel with Mahatma Gandhi. The government should be ashamed of its inability to tacle corruption and should immediately step down from power if they really have even little bit of shame left in them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    India need to do more than lokpal bill to fight corruption. In India corruption starts from the grassroot level. Every official/politician expects bribe for everything they are doing. Money is more valued than honesty in most parts of India, hence we wont see a corrupt person looked down by the society.Let Anna's movement be the right direction towards making Indian people real Indian citizens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Hail Lokpal. Another pal . Already so many "pals' are there to deal with corruption and one more is great!. 'It will totally eliminate corruption' and all Indians will become saints over night ! See Mayawati-who is neck deep corruption already extends support to Anna Hazzare-Good Joke!

    Hail Lok pal, panacea for all ill , and make all the politicians, bureaucrats and people saints overnight!


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