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Raging anti-graft rally piles pressure on Indian gov't

(Xinhua)

08:28, August 19, 2011

NEW DELHI, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Anti-corruption social activist Anna Hazare and his team have compelled Delhi Police to allow them fast in Ramlila ground of central Delhi for 15 days as thousands more keep rallying across India on the third consecutive day Thursday to support his anti-corruption crusade.

Delhi Police detained Hazare early Tuesday morning as " preventive measures" for "breach of peace" before he set out for indefinite fast calling for stronger anti-corruption law and brought him to Tihar Jail in Delhi where high-profile corrupted officials were put in, but decided to release him only after 12 hours as mass protests broke out in Delhi and many other states against the arrest. Hazare refused to leave the jail until he was allowed unconditional fast.

Faced with growing nationwide protests and slammed by a united opposition in Parliament over the detention, Indian Union government got into a damage control mode on Wednesday to lift all conditions for the anti-corruption crusader's indefinite fast on the Lokpal Bill.

"The decision to arrest was an administrative decision but the decision to release him was a political one," said Indian home minister P Chidambaram yesterday in the lower house of Parliament Lok Sabha, "Everybody has the right to protest...right to vote us into office, right to vote us out...but they do not have the right to make a law. That right is only with Parliament."

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also made his Parliament statement Wednesday saying that "the path that he (Hazare) has chosen to impose his draft of a bill upon Parliament is totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our parliamentary democracy." Singh said arresting Hazare was a decision taken by Delhi Police and was sad but inevitable move as the activists insisted on defying the law. "When some sections of society deliberately challenge the authority of the government and the prerogative of Parliament, it is the bounden duty of the government to maintain peace and tranquiliity," Singh said.


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