NEW DELHI: The arrest of Anna Hazare ahead of his indefinite fast in Delhi on Tuesday to protest a toothless anti-corruption bill approved by the cabinet, evoked countrywide protests. The Gandhian was detained this morning by the police in Delhi as he was about to set out for his fast in support of the Lokpal Bill.
Activist Arvind Kejriwal, who was also detained along with Hazare just as they stepped out of their residence in east Delhi, was also taken to Civil Lines, Police Officers Mess in north Delhi along with him.
As news of Hazare’s arrest spread, sporadic protests broke out across the capital, leading to the detention of more than 500 supporters, including former top cop Kiran Bedi and lawyer Shanti Bhushan.
The events unfolded after Hazare and Kejriwal left their flat in Supreme Enclave early Tuesday for their fast at Jaiprakash Narayan Park. As they got out of the lift in the apartment complex, around 20 police officers in plain clothes encircled them and whisked them away in a police van.
Hazare’s supporters, who had gathered in hundreds in the apartment complex, shouted anti-government slogans and praised the social activist. A large number of them followed the cavalcade all the way to north Delhi.
The police formed a human chain on the road to prevent any untoward incident. There were massive protests in Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial, and near the Delhi University campus.
Just before his arrest, Hazare told a news channel: “Don’t let my arrest stop this movement. This is the nation’s second struggle for freedom. The entire world has come to know how deep rooted corruption is.”
He added: “I appeal to you that let there be no violence in this movement. I also appeal to you, young and old alike, to give eight days of your life to the nation – if necessary for a jail bharo andolan.”
Prashant Bhushan, one of Hazare’s team members, said: “Anna’s arrest is illegal, unconstitutional… This government has no faith in democratic values. It has become dictatorial. This situation is like the Emergency period.”
Former Karnataka lokayukta, another member of Team Anna, described the detentions as “unfortunate”.
Ramon Magsaysay award winner Bedi, who was detained from Rajghat, said: “When Anna asked on what charges was he arrested, the police said they had just been given orders.
“The Delhi Police is capable of handling such peaceful protests… These (arrests) are just orders from above. It’s during the Emergency that such things used to happen, arrests just because there were orders.”
Rejecting outright that the Delhi Police was influenced by political pressure, Congress leader Ambika Soni said: “The police is not under any political influence. They are working independently.
“I am sure Anna’s supporters will not resort to violence but who can ensure that two-three protestors will not resort to violence and property is vandalised or people are hurt? So we have to take police help.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemned the arrest of Hazare, comparing the scenario to the “1975 Emergency like situation”.
“It is regrettable and condemnable. This government is bent upon crushing anyone who wants to protest against corruption,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
“The language used today is identical to that during the Emergency period. I regret many people in government today were there that time too, still they can’t understand the people. Anna is articulating the emotion of the distress of people against rampant corruption,” he added.
Protest in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
As soon as the news of arrest of Anna Hazare were flashed on channnels, supporters of Anna started gathering in large number at Income Tax circle at Ahmedabad- the Karma Bhoomi of Mahatma Gandhi. With latest updates on FB from youth, to managing the crowd from oldies, the supporters started roaring slogans supporting Anna. The same was the case in Vadodara and Surat, where supporters came down to streets in favor of Anna Hazare.
Protests in Punjab, Haryana BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and other BJP leaders held a candle march in support of Anna. Phagwara Parshuram Sena started a day long hunger strike in Phagwara in Guru Hargobind Nagar area near Improvement Trust Office to protest against Anna Hazare’s arrest.
Carrying flags and placards, hundreds of Anna supporters gathered on Madhya Marg, the main artery of Chandigarh. Advocates went on strike in Phagwara to protest against Anna Hazare’s, Arvind Kejriwal’s and Kiran Bedi’s arrest by the Delhi police, terming it as an attack on the fundamental right to protest.
Members of Shaheed Bhagat Singh memorial society gathered at the hall gate to demonstrate against the arrest and to extend support to Anna.
Haryana khap panchayats also announced to support the Anna agitation for the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Fast, demos in solidarity with Hazare in Kerala
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rights activists, writers, artists and professionals from different walks in Kerala came out against the arrest of Anna Hazare and his close associates in New Delhi.
Activists under “Citizen’s Forum” organised a fast in the state capital protesting Hazare’s arrest and pledging support to his struggle for probity in public life and an effective Jan Lokpal legislation.
Several youths, including IT professionals, gathered under the banner of “India Against Corruption” here in support of the anti-graft movement launched by the Gandhian.
“There is no justification for the arrest of Hazare. His campaign is not going to be suppressed through this undemocratic action. He is certain to gain massive support from all parts of the nation in the coming days,” an activist said.
The student’s outfit ABVP has given a call to boycott classes in protest against Hazare’s arrest.
Supporters protest Anna’s detention in Orissa
BHUBANESWAR: Activist Anna Hazare’s supporters took out processions, organised meetings and staged demonstrations across Orissa to protest his detention in New Delhi.
While a group of people shouting slogans against the central government took out a march here, hundreds of activists held a protest meeting near the state assembly.
“The way the government dealt with Hazare, it reminded us of the 1975 Emergency,” human rights activist Prafulla Samantray, who staged protest with hundreds other near the state assembly, said. The detention is condemnable, he said.
People from all walks of life came out on the streets and took part in sit-in demonstrations and protests organised in at least three places of the city. Some people also observed fast.
In the district headquarters town of Sambalpur, about 320 km from here, hundreds of activists of social organisations took out a motorcycle rally to extend their solidarity with Hazare.
Similar demonstrations, rallies and hunger-strikes were reported from other parts of the state. The protesters included freedom fighters, former judges, social activists, journalists and students.
Chennai begins fast to support Hazare
CHENNAI: People in Chennai gathered on Tuesday to support social activist Anna Hazare’s demand for a strong anti-corruption bill, said the India Against Corruption (IAC), which backs the leader.
“With Anna Hazare being detained by Delhi Police, we will soon decide on the issue of courting arrest,” media coordinator for IAC Bhavana Upadhyaya said.
“There are 25 people who have registered their names for the indefinite fast and around 70 for participating in relay fast,” Upadhyaya said.
Freedom fighter Lakshmikanthan Bharathi, 85, began his fast here. Ninety-year-old Venkata Kalyanam, former personal secretary to Mahatma Gandhi, is also expected to join.
Corporate executives, software professionals, media artistes and small businessmen are at the venue of fast in south Chennai, Upadhyaya said.
Around 25 NGOs have extended their support to the struggle, she said.
“We are holding the fast in a private plot and we have booked the plot for five days,” she said adding, the police are friendly.
Several others, including actor Arvind Swamy who starred in “Roja”, are expected to participate.
Youth icon and food service industrialist Sharath Babu has agreed to fast for two days, Upadhyaya added.
Supporters of Hazare begin relay-strike in Jaipur
JAIPUR: Supporters of Anna Hazare called the detention of the social activist “unconstitutional” as they began their relay-strike in the city today.
“Police action against Anna is completely unconstitutional and the people of Jaipur are in his support,” an activist, Laxman Singh said.
The activists, demanding a strong Lokpal Bill, began their three-day relay-strike at Udyog Maidan near statue circle here.
“Each day, 25 people will sit on the strike in Anna’s support,” Laxman said, adding that a rally has also been proposed in support of Anna, who was detained in New Delhi this morning.
JP movement participants stage sit-in in support of Anna
RANCHI: The ’74 Chetna Manch, a forum comprising participants of Jayaprakash Narayan movement, today staged a sit-in here in support of civil right activist Anna Hazare’s demand for an ‘effective’ anti-corruption bill.
“Ours is a peaceful show of solidarity to Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption. If the Anna team believes that effective Lokpal Bill could curb corruption what is the problem for the Centre to accept it,” Manch convenor Pramod Mishra told reporters at Sahid Chowk where they staged the sit-in.
“We are also sporting black badges in protest against Anna Hazare’s arrest and preventing him from sitting on hunger strike,” Mishra said.
Meanwhile, several people from different walks of life took out processions in the city, shouting slogans in support of Hazare and his anti-corruption movement.
Shutdown in Hazare’s village, protests in Pune, Mumbai
AHMEDNAGAR, MAHARASHTRA: Residents of Gandhian activist Anna Hazare’s village Ralegan Siddhi on Tuesday took to the streets to protest the detention of the anti-corruption crusader in New Delhi. There were demonstrations in Pune and Mumbai too.
Scores of people trooped out of their homes soon after news of the arrest of Hazare and his team members reached the village, about 230 km from the state capital Mumbai. There was a spontaneous shutdown in the village.
Flaying the arrests, many villagers, including women, marched to the local Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation bus depot and raised slogans against the government.
The state police had deployed tight security in the village and all the roads leading to it from Pune, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad and Nashik.
While thousands of activists staged a march in Pune, a large number of protestors started gathering near Dadar in Mumbai to chart out the further course of action.
The main agitation is planned at Azad Maidan in Mumbai later Tuesday where prominent activists, including Medha Patkar, are expected to congregate.
Activists fast in Himachal to support Anna
SHIMLA: Several activists began an indefinite hunger strike in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi town to press for a strong anti-corruption Lokpal bill and express solidarity with Anna Hazare.
“As per the scheduled programme, we have started our fast in support of a strong Lokpal bill. Since police have arrested Anna, we have decided to go as per previous plan. If needed, we will court arrest,” RTI (Right to Information Act) activist Lawan Thakur said from Mandi.
He said Anna’s arrest was regrettable and condemnable.
Police said more than 100 people had gathered in Mandi’s Seri Manch area to support Hazare’s crusade.
Additional Director General of Police S R Mardi said, “As long as there is a peaceful protest, we will not disturb them. But we will not allow anyone to disturb law and order.”
Protests in Bihar against Anna’s detention
PATNA: Bihar unit of India Against Corruption, the umbrella body of the citizen’s movement fighting for strong Lokpal, today held fast and demonstrations at different places in Bihar to protest against detention of Anna Hazare.
Activists under the banner of India Against Corruption brought out protest marches in Purnia, Muzaffarpur and Bhagalpur against the detention.
Demanding that the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh concede the demand for “a strong and effective” Jan Lokpal bill, several activists of the Patna branch of IAC assembled at the Kargil Chowk here and sat on fast.
They shouted anti-government slogans against the detention of Anna and his aides.
Talking to reporters, IAC’s Bihar branch convener Ratnesh Kumar Choudhary and media in-charge Sanjay Duta said the agitation would continue till the government orders release of Anna and others and concedes the demand for Jan Lokpal.
Protest in Raipur
RAIPUR: Students, office workers and homemakers were among the dozens of people who stepped out in this Chhattisgarh capital Tuesday to protest the detention of activist Anna Hazare in the national capital.
People gathered at the Budha Talab area after TV channels relayed the news of Hazare being whisked away by Delhi Police as he was about to leave home to begin his fast-unto-death for a strong Lokpal bill.
“It’s injustice,” said 55-year-old Rajendra Singh. He said the government was unleashing atrocities against a man fighting against corruption in the “Gandhian way and wants to help India get over its corruption-culture”.
Geeta Singhai, 40, a homemaker wearing a white jacket with “I am Anna” on the back, added: “People of India have woken up from their slumber to fight corruption. There is not one Anna fighting against corruption, there are thousands and millions and the corrupt central government will have to bend before the great Anna Hazare.”
source: TOI and bullswire bureau