Anna supporters protest outside PM’s house, detained (Roundup)

July 28th, 2012 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Team Anna’s anti-graft protest Saturday reached near Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s heavily guarded residence here after more people joined the ongoing agitation at Jantar Mantar over the weekend.

Within minutes, dozens of Anna Hazare’s slogan shouting supporters holding placards with anti-government slogans were rounded up near the 7 Race Course Road, packed in vehicles and detained, police said.

As police tried to stop the protesters from going ahead, many of them resisted the arrest by lying down on the road, dotted by heavy presence of security personnel guarding Manmohan Singh’s official residence.

The protesters were seen throwing paper missiles and pieces of coal when they clashed with the police. Some of them tried to break through the barricades near the gates but were swiftly stopped by police.

There were no reports any injury in the clash that lasted for a few minutes.

“We have detained 40 men and six women… The incident took place around 6 p.m.,” a police officer told IANS.

Activists led by Anna Hazare allege that Manmohan Singh and 14 of his ministerial colleagues are involved in graft, including in the purported multi-crore rupees coal mining scam.

At the Janatar Mantar on the fourth day of Team Anna’s indefinite fast against corruption, more people joined the agitation than the weekdays. According to estimates, there were some 2,000 protesters at the venue.

Hazare threatened hunger strike from Sunday till the government moves on with his version of the anti-corruption law, the Lokpal bill.

“I will fast until we get Jan Lokpal… We too are not happy to go on hunger strike again and again but we are forced to,” Hazare told his supporters.

The 75-year-old anti-graft crusader had served an ultimatum on July 26 that he will wait for the government to take a decision on his demands or else he will join his colleagues on Jantar Mantar fast from Sunday.

He attacked the government saying it had “cheated” them “again and again from the start till now”.

“First by the (Lokpal bill) draft committee, then by the (parliament’s) standing committee and then in parliament.”

Hazare made it clear that he would not contest elections and said the “country’s future is not safe with the Congress and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)”.

“For a vote, Rs.15,000, Rs.20,000, Rs.30,000 are given. Those who get elected are making money and they don’t know where to keep this money. So they send it to foreign countries. Now its time to awaken the voters,” he said, referring to Indian black money stashed away in overseas tax heavens.

He said a political “alternative” to the Congress and the BJP was impossible if “good people” do not fight elections, enter the parliament and get the nation a strong Lokpal.

But he ruled out contesting elections himself or forming a political party.

“Some are saying that we should give alternative, we should form a party. Rs.15-20 crore is spend by a candidate for assembly elections and Rs.50 crore for Lok Sabha polls. I will not fight elections. I will not put up a party,” he said.

He said he would campaign for those with a clean background and then put their names on internet seeking people’s opinion about them.

“From among them, we will put up some people for election. I will go for their campaigning and tell people that these are good candidates and we need good people in parliament,” he added.

Hazare said he was unfazed with the dwindling number of his supporters at the fast venue.

“Crowds alone do not make a movement. I will be happy if even five people gather to support the movement. The protest is going on in 550 districts, so it is not correct to say that the crowd is huge or less.”

His close aide Arvind Kejriwal said the fight was more than pressing the government on the anti-graft law. “We want the entire system to change… We will have bring about a total revolution… The struggle is no longer about the Lokpal bill only.”

Kejriwal requested Anna not to fast citing his poor health.

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