Indian activist ‘detained’ ahead of mass fast

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Anna Hazare had planned action to force tougher laws against corruption
Local media said police took Hazare into custody to prevent a breakdown in law and order in India’s capital [AFP]

A veteran Indian social activist was detained by police at his home to prevent him from defying authorities with a fast to the death to force tougher laws against corruption, local media reported.
Anna Hazare had said that he would start fasting on Tuesday and would gather along with supporters in a public park in New Delhi despite police denying him permission to do so.
“Police have detained us,” Arvind Kejriwal, an aide to Hazare, told NDTV broadcaster before being taken away by plainclothes police in a white car early on Tuesday.
Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said Hazare was detained, but gave no other details.
Local media said police took Hazare into custody to prevent a breakdown in law and order in India’s capital as thousands of followers were due to take part in the fast.

Police had on Monday denied Hazare permission to fast near a cricket stadium because he failed to meet certain conditions, including ending his fast in three days and ensuring not more than 5,000 people took part.

Hunger strike

Hazare, 73, ended a four-day hunger strike in April after the government set up a committee to draft legislation to create an anti-corruption ombudsman. The committee included Hazare and other non-elected
activists.

The legislation was introduced in Parliament earlier this month but Hazare demanded that it be made tougher to include the prime minister and the judiciary in the purview of the anti-corruption watchdog.

The current draft of the law does not include them.

Hazare’s protest has tapped into deep public anger against corruption in India as the Congress party-led government battles a series of graft scandals.

These include the murky sale of mobile phone licenses and the hosting of last year’s Commonwealth Games, which together lost the country as much as $40bn, according to government auditors.

For two weeks, Parliament has been paralysed by anti-corruption protests, which have stalled crucial legislation.


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