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Hazare sets Aug 15 deadline for Lokpal Bill
NEW DELHI, Jun 8 (Agencies):
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Published on 8 Jun. 2011 11:58 PM IST
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Beginning his day-long hunger strike at Rajghat to protest against corruption and the recent police brutality, the 73-year-old-Gandhi devotee Anna Hazare said that if the Lokpal Bill was not passed, he would fast unto death at Jantar Mantar from August 16.
Anna described his movement as the second battle of independence but underlined Gandhi’s non-violent path. He said his Wednesday fast was to condemn the police action on Ramdev’s supporters at Ramlila ground. Anna likened the police brutality to the British repression of Indians in Jalianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919. He advised his supporters to refrain from violence. “The government is very powerful, if we indulge in violence, it will give the government an excuse to quash the movement,” he warned.
The Gandhian reiterated, “The government has forgotten that people are the masters and not the government. They need to understand that we are one, not different.” Anna is holding his symbolic one-day fast at Rajghat, the site where Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, was cremated. Thousands of Anna supporters came out to join his fast despite severe heat and made their way through heavy police presence at the venue. Nationalistic songs in catchy beats were sung and cheered at passionately by Anna supporters. Baba Ramdev’s Bharat Swabhiman Trust activists were also seen among the massive crowd. Lots of people have been stopped ahead of barricades because of the heavy turnout.
Earlier, the veteran lawyer and civil society member of the drafting committee on Lokpal bill, Shanti Bhushan described Anna Hazare the modern day Gandhi. At this the crowed cheered loudly.
Taking a dig at the Congress led UPA govenment Bhushan said, “The (UPA) ministers don’t know constitution. They think of themselves as viceroys of the British era. The right of the police to invoke section 144 was misused for Jantar Mantar to justify the unjust action at Ramlila.” Bhushan reiterated that the movement against corruption was not about the lokpal bill but about fundamental rights.
The social activist and leader of the ‘Indian Against Corruption’ movement Arvind Kejriwal said that if his agitation became communal, he would be the first person to leave it. Kejriwal was referring to the government accusation that the anti-corruption movement was a communal Hindu right wing sponsored movement.
In an offensive against the government, he said, “The ministers have been elected but why are they acting so arrogantly and threatening us?” He challenged the UPA ministers to declare their assets and the political parties to declare their sources of funding. “The government asked us to declare our assets and we did it in 24 hours. We showed where we got and spent money, how much was spent on Ramlila fast. Now we demand the ministers and the political parties to do it too. Let the Congress, the BJP and all other parties give details of the expenses on their rallies for the last five years.”
When Kejriwal mentioned the union minister Kapil Sibal’s name, the audience booed and yelled ‘shame, shame, Kapil Sibal hai, hai, Kapil Sibal murdabad.’ The booing went on for at least five minutes. Incidentally, Rajghat falls under the Lok Sabha constituency from where Kapil Sibal has been elected.
Cries of ‘shame, shame’ became louder when Kejriwal mentioned that the government had refused to bring the prime minister, ministers and horse trading within the ambit of lokpal.
Kejriwal announced that the next agitation would be on electoral reforms and right to justice. He received huge applause.

 
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