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Indian nationwide protests continue against arrest of anti-graft activist


09:06, August 18, 2011

Supporters of Indian civil society activist Anna Hazare participate in a rally in capital New Delhi Aug. 17, 2011. Indian civil society activist Anna Hazare was detained by Delhi Police Tuesday morning as he was about to set out for his fast in support of a strong anti- corruption Jan Lokpal bill that allows civil society to surveil corruption charges of officials, parliament members and prime minister. (Xinhua/Partha Sarkar)

NEW DELHI, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Nationwide protests continued for the second consecutive day on Wednesday against the arrest of anti-graft activist Anna Hazare with political parties holding rallies in various states to press for a strong anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill.

Facing widespread protest, Indian government had agreed to release Anna Hazare after a 12-hour detainment Tuesday evening, but the Gandhian activist refused to leave the Tihar Jail until the government allows him unconditional fast for stronger Lokpal Bill.

With more people taking to the streets across the country in support of Anna Hazare,the Delhi Police are now discussing with Anna's team on relaxing restrictions on the number of dates and participants of the fast.

While hundreds are protesting in front of the Tihar Jail in which Hazare was detained by the Delhi police as a "preventive measure" against "breach of peace", more are marching near Indian Gate and protest area of Jantar Mantra in the capital New Delhi.

According to local media reports, protests were also held in India's financial hub Mumbai as supporters gather in the southern part of the city against the "undemocratic" manner in which the 73- year-old was taken into custody.

Thousands of students in the southern state of Karnataka skipped classes as they thronged Freedom Park in Bangalore at a rally, with former Supreme Court judge Santosh N Hegde joining.

In another southern state of Tamil Nadu, a large number of people observed fast and more than 300 activists assembled in the capital city Chennai under the banner of "India Against Corruption ".

Many Indian states are holding similar rallies to voice support for Anna Hazare and stronger measures to reduce corruption.

Speaking in parliament where the opposition joined forces and demanded a statement , Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that Hazare might have high ideals but his path was wrong.

The "path he has chosen to impose his draft of a bill upon parliament is totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our parliamentary democracy," the prime minister said.

India's central government has been cornered by media and opposition parties since last year in high profile corruption cases and Gandhian civil rights activist Anna Hazare started a fast this April in the capital New Delhi to demand the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill ,also referred to as the citizens' ombudsman bill, seeking to create an independent body with the power to investigate politicians and bureaucrats on corruption charges without prior government permission. First introduced in 1969, the bill has failed to become law for over four decades.

Following Hazare's six-day hunger strike, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that the bill would be reintroduced in monsoon session of the parliament starting from this August, but the government's version of the draft bill which are now under discussion in parliament's standing committee are considered too weak and Anna Hazare declared to start hunger strike again from August 16. He was arrested by the Delhi Police before he set out to fast early Tuesday morning.


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