Indian social activist to end hunger strike

Anna Hazare's announcement comes after federal government agrees to form a joint panel to write new anti-corruption law.

    Hazare''s fast unto death in New Delhi drew massive public support including from celebrities and bureaucrats [Reuters]

    A veteran Indian social activist has said he will end his four-day hunger strike following an agreement with the federal government to set up a committee to write a tough new anti-public corruption law.
     
    Public support for Anna Hazare, 73, grew with thousands of people - including film stars, government bureaucrats and a famed yoga guru - pledging their support as his fast in New Delhi entered its fourth day on Friday.
     
    Amid cheers by thousands of his supporters in the Indian capital, Hazare, 73, said: "I will end my fast on Saturday. It''s a victory for the people of India."
     
    The government is expected to issue a formal order setting up a committee with five members from each side to draft the new anti-corruption law, according to Kapil Sibal, a federal minister who negotiated on behalf of the government.
     
    "Whatever is required to be done will be done by June 30 so that the draft legislation is introduced in parliament," he said.

    The roadside tent in the Jantar Mantar area where Hazare had been conducting his public fast since Tuesday became a pilgrimage site for Indians fed up with a string of seemingly unending scandals.
     
    Ram Dev, the yoga guru; Anupam Kher, a Bollywood star; and E Sreedharan, the architect of New Delhi''s new metro rail network; joined thousands of people who have been camping in the tent or squatting on the road nearby to offer support to Hazare.

    Parallel fasts

    Sympathetic public protests and fasts were being held in state capitals across the country.

    Anger in India with corruption has been growing in the wake of recent scandals, including an investigation into the sale of cellphone spectrum in 2008 that reportedly cost India tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue.
     
    The telecoms minister had to resign and is currently in jail pending a probe into the losses.

    Hazare, a Gandhian activist, began his indefinite hunger strike to press his demand for amendments to the Lokpal, or Ombudsman, Bill.

    He contends that the legislation in its present form is useless and has drafted a separate Jan Lokpal bill.

    On the third day the Indian government said it would begin negotiations with Hazare over his demand that "civil-society activists" be involved in drafting the anti-corruption law.

    The Lokpal Bill is awaiting endorsement by a select parliamentary committee.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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