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Ramdev threatens to arm supporters; govt slams him
NEW DELHI/HARIDWAR, JUN 8 (IANS):
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Published on 9 Jun. 2011 1:01 AM IST
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Baba Ramdev Wednesday threatened to arm his supporters if there was a repeat of the police crackdown against him. The government reacted sharply, terming the remark "anti-national" and said the yoga guru had revealed his "true colours".
Ramdev, whose health deteriorated on the fifth day of his fast against corruption and for steps to bring back black money from abroad, said in Haridwar: "We will build an army of 11,000 men and women."
Ramdev stressed that while he does not favour an armed rebellion, he would not allow security forces to act like they did at Delhi's Ramlila Ground when they broke up a meeting attended by thousands of his supporters post-midnight June 4.
"Dedicated young men and women will be imparted 'shaastra' (vedic education) and 'shastra' (arms training)," he said.
"These young people should be 35-40 years old. Not only men, young women must also join them. They must be dedicated, ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. They will be given arms training."
In New Delhi, Ramdev's remarks drew sharp reactions from the Congress and the central government.
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters that Ramdev has "exposed his true colours and intentions".
"Let him do so. And the law will deal with that," he said on Ramdev's intention of arming his supporters.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) V. Narayanasamy said: "It is very clear that the statement given by Baba Ramdev is anti-national and action should be taken against him."
In an interview to official broadcaster Doordarshan, Chidambaram said the apex body of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had propped up Ramdev as its patron for an anti-corruption front announced April 2 in Karnataka.
"You should know who is behind Baba Ramdev. We go back to a March 2011 at a meeting in Putthur in Karnataka, the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, the apex body of the RSS, decided to organise support of all individuals and institutions that were ranged in the fight against corruption," Chidambaram said.
The Congress called Ramdev's plan to raise an armed force "illegal and unconstitutional".
Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said the government should take due action to maintain law and order and to prevent any communal conflagration.
Meanwhile, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj travelled from New Delhi to Haridwar to meet Ramdev and express her party's support to his agitation.
Sushma Swaraj said the yoga guru had lost about five kilograms of weight since the start of his hunger strike in Delhi's Ramlila Ground Saturday.
"The entire nation is worried about Baba's health. So, being the leader of the opposition, I thought of visiting him personally," she told reporters in Haridwar. But the BJP sought to distance itself from Ramdev's plans to raise an armed force for self-defence.
Party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the BJP supports "non-violent" movements.

 
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