Supporters of Jailed Anti-Corruption Activist Hold Protests in India

Posted August 17th, 2011 at 1:40 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Hundreds of people are gathered outside a prison in New Delhi where a leading anti-corruption advocate continues to hold a hunger strike.

Indian police say 74-year-old Anna Hazare remained in prison overnight on Tuesday, continuing his indefinite fast behind bars, despite police orders to leave.

Hazare was placed in “preventative custody” by police on Tuesday, after refusing to stop a planned protest and hunger strike in a public park aimed at convincing India's government to pass tougher anti-corruption laws.

Police had banned the protest, saying Hazare would not agree to limit the participants to 5,000 people or limit the strike to three days. Meanwhile, police released more than 1,000 of Hazare's followers who were detained after defying the police order not to protest.

But Hazare continued his hunger fast from jail Wednesday, saying he would not leave prison until authorities allowed the event to take place.

In a statement released after his detention, Hazare vowed to continue the protest movement, telling supporters that the “second freedom struggle” had begun. He also urged them to keep the movement non-violent.

Both houses of India's parliament adjourned early on Tuesday over the controversy.

On Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vowed that his government would take the “strictest possible action” to counter corruption. He also appealed to Hazare to abandon his hunger strike, saying those who disagree with the government should not resort to protests and hunger strikes, but instead make their views known through parliament, political parties and even the media.

Leaders of India's ruling Congress party on Tuesday repeated their assertion that parliament is the only acceptable venue for drafting new legislation.

Popular outrage over corruption in India has grown steadily over the past year as reports of one high-profile corruption scandal after another have made headlines in national media. They include the sale of telecommunications licenses at below market value and numerous financial irregularities in India's hosting of last year's Commonwealth Games.