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Central & South Asia
Indian activist's fast gains public support
Anna Hazare's hunger strike stirs anger over high-level corruption, putting pressure on government to take action.
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2011 09:29

Hazare began fasting in a roadside tent in a protest that has stoked public anger over corruption in India [Reuters]

Hundreds of people in the India have been supporting a veteran social activist during his fast unto death over the nation's proposed Ombudsman Bill.

As Anna Hazare's strike entered its third day in New Delhi on Thursday, the federal government said that it will begin negotiations with him over his demand that "civil-society activists" be involved in drafting the anti-corruption law.

For their part, Hazare's supporters hoped that the cause would reach the people and the government would give in to the demands of non-governmental organisations.

The Gandhian activist began an indefinite hunger strike in the Indian capital on Tuesday to press his demand for amendments to the Lokpal Bill.

Hazare had said he would sacrifice his life if the federal government refused to form a joint committee with non-governmental figures for the formulation of the Bill.

Hundreds of people have come out in the last two days to support Hazare and the cause.

Supporters have been camping at New Delhi's Jantar Mantar monument to urge the government to redraft the bill.

They said the cause would become bigger as more supporters join it everyday.

"I was influenced by him and thought when a 73-year-old man can set aside his personal means and decide to fast unto death for the country, then I think the youth should be two steps ahead of him," Anil, a supporter, said.

The Jan Lokpal Bill, drafted by social activists, stipulates that investigation in any corruption case will have to be completed in one year, and punishment would be a jail term of minimum five years and maximum for life.

It further says that the prime minister, if found corrupt, should also be subject to prosecution.

Arvind Kejriwal, a respected Right To Information Act (RTI) activist, said: "A lot of people came till late night yesterday after the appeal made by Anna Hazare and the various news channels covered it.

"People from various fields of work and a lot of youth, from software engineers to journalists came out to support the cause. And it seems that there will be a lot of crowd today.

"The public has come out to raise their voices against corruption and all these people who are standing behind me have also undertaken the fast."

Supporters were singing patriotic songs such as 'We Shall Overcome' to keep their spirits for the cause alive.

The Lokpal Bill is awaiting endorsement by a select parliamentary committee. Hazare contended that the Lokpal Bill, in its present form, is useless and has drafted a separate Jan Lokpal bill.

Source:
Agencies
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