Indian Supreme Court Wants Answers about Guru Crackdown

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 7:00 am (UTC-5)
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India's Supreme Court said Monday it wants the government to explain why it sent hundreds of police to end the peaceful hunger strike of a popular yoga guru and thousands of this supporters.

Baba Ramdev's mass fast, staged in a huge tent in New Delhi, was part of a populist campaign to fight corruption.

The guru has called on the government to return billions of dollars in funds sent to foreign banks and used to pay bribes. He also wants tough anti-corruption legislation, and has called for the execution of corrupt government officials.

Ramdev said Monday he has resumed his fast at his ashram in the northern town of Hardiwar.

On Sunday, hundreds of police swooped down on the guru's hunger strike venue in New Delhi. The police used tear gas and batons to disperse thousands of Ramdev's supporters. Dozens of people were injured in the melee. Ramdev was briefly detained by police.

A police spokesman said permission had been given to Ramdev to hold a yoga function for 5,000 people, not the more than 40,000 people who turned up at the venue.

Critics charge Ramdev has ties to right-wing Hindu groups, and they question his sincerity, arguing he lives lavishly with money from his multi-million-dollar business ventures. But his call to end widespread corruption appears to be resonating in a country still reeling from a $39 billion telecom scandal and a scandal-plagued Commonwealth Games that have seen some ministers end up in jail.