Activists Fast to Press Indian Government on Corruption

Posted June 8th, 2011 at 11:10 am (UTC-5)
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Indian social activist Anna Hazare has started a day-long fast against corruption and the government's crackdown on a similar protest led by a popular yoga guru.

Anna Hazare started a day-long fast Wednesday at the New Delhi site where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. Hazare sat on a stage dressed in his traditional white cotton clothes as about 500 of his supporters walked through tight security to join him.

Before starting his fast, Hazare condemned the Indian government for deploying hundreds of baton-wielding police early Sunday to end the anti-graft hunger strike led by yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has defended the crackdown, saying it was “unfortunate” that the police action had to be taken, but that there was “no alternative.”

Ramdev, who has continued his protest from his base in northern India, warned of violence if targeted again.

The yoga guru said Wednesday that he would build an army of 11,000 men and women to block any police attempt to disturb his fast. Doctors have warned that his health is deteriorating and have warned him to resume eating.

India's ruling Congress party has been under pressure following a series of corruption scandals.

Authorities are currently investigating whether organizers of last year's Commonwealth Games in India received kickbacks totaling billions of dollars. In addition, the government says it lost up to $40 billion with the sale of mobile phone licenses at below-market rates.