Another Indian Activist Fasts to Protest Government Corruption

Posted June 8th, 2011 at 3:40 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.

Hazare began his protest 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.”

The 71-year-old Hazare's fast is the latest civil protest against the government, part of widespread public anger at Mr. Singh's alleged failure to curb graft. India has Asia's third largest economy, but complaints have mounted 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.