Nationwide protests against Hazare’s detention

PTI New Delhi | Updated on August 16, 2011 Published on August 16, 2011

The early morning crackdown on Mr Anna Hazare and his team triggered nationwide protests with people from different walks of life demanding his immediate release and voicing support to the Gandhian’s demand for a strong Lokpal.

Besides his home state Maharashtra, widespread protests and sit-in demonstrations were held in various places in the East, North and South.

Mr Hazare’s village Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra witnessed protests with people coming out on the roads along with their cattle and blocking the traffic.

“The entire village is observing a bandh today,” 73-year-old Hazare’s associate Mr Datta Awari said, adding that villagers have decided to observe a fast to express solidarity with him.

Responding to Mr Hazare’s call to fill jails as part of his campaign against corruption and demand for a strong Lokpal Bill, his supporters courted arrests in Mumbai, while protests against his detention gathered momentum across Maharashtra.

Social activist Medha Patkar led the protests at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.

In Pune, supporters gathered at a square in the city to condemn the police action and Mr Hazare’s detention, while in Nashik, a rally was taken out.

In Nagpur, a large number of people courted arrest.

Donning ‘Gandhi’ caps with slogans ‘I am Anna’ supporters gathered at the Reserve Bank of India Square in Civil Lines on the busy Nagpur-Jabalpur national highway.

TDP chief Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu said in Hyderabad that the police action against Mr Hazare was totally “undemocratic and unconstitutional”.

Asking the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to apologise to the nation for action against Hazare and other social activists, Mr Naidu said the police action against Mr Hazare and his team is “the height of the despotic rule of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre that is suppressing all civil rights”.

Describing his detention as dangerous for democracy, the Bihar Chief Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, and his Jharkhand counterpart, Mr Arjun Munda, said one cannot snatch one’s right to protest peacefully.

The police crackdown is “a rehearsal of Emergency and murder of democracy which people will never tolerate,” Mr Kumar said, while Munda described the incident as “dangerous for democracy“.

The Bihar Deputy Chief Minister, Mr S.K. Modi, asked the people to support of Anna’s movement against corruption and hold demonstrations peacefully and democratically.

Mr Hazare’s detention was “more or less similar to the arrest of late Jayaprakash Narayan against corruption on June 26, 1974,” he said.

The Bihar and West Bengal units of ‘India Against Corruption’, the umbrella body of the citizen’s movement fighting for a strong Lokpal, held sit-in demonstrations in their respective States.

The Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), an ally of the ruling Trinamool Congress, described Mr Hazare’s detention as “administrative fascism”.

In Assam, rights activists sat on a dharna in Guwahati demanding that Hazare and other leaders be released immediately.

Demonstrations and dharnas were also held in several places of Orissa.

In the South, protests were staged in several parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

Protesters waving the national flag and some sporting Hazare masks and T-shirts gathered at the Freedom Park in Bangalore and raised slogans supporting Mr Hazare.

Former Karnataka Lokayukta and member of the Jan Lokpal Bill drafting committee Santosh Hegde slammed the police action “even before Anna Hazare defied any law including the prohibitory order“.

In Tamil Nadu, protests were staged in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai, while reports from Kerala said rights activists, writers, artists and professionals came out against the detention of the Gandhian.

Veteran Marxist leader Mr V.S. Achuthanandan said in Kochi that the action was reminiscent of the Emergency.

“Only an autocratic regime can disallow a democratic right to protest. It (police action) was reminiscent of the Emergency days and is against all democratic norms,” the former Kerala Chief Minister said.

In the northern region, protests were held in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Jammu and Uttar Pradesh.

Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal strongly condemned the police action against Hazare and termed it as “murder of democracy”.

Published on August 16, 2011
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