Police end Ramdev’s anti-corruption protest, yoga guru removed (Second Lead)

June 5th, 2011 - 5:44 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) Hundreds of police swooped on Baba Ramdev’s protest venue here shortly after midnight Saturday and forcibly removed the yoga guru, less than a day after he began an indefinite hunger strike against corruption.

Even as his supporters were teargassed and dispersed with batons, police personnel physically removed Ramdev from the stage, refusing to heed to his pleas that he should be given time to talk to his aides.

Both Delhi Police and home ministry sources insisted that Ramdev had not been arrested and had left the place voluntarily after being served an externment order to quit the capital.

But his numerous supporters contested this and accused the police of brutalities.

“What has happened is disgusting. It was barbarous,” said a former Indian Navy officer from Chandigarh who was among the thousands who had spent the night at the Ramlila ground along with Ramdev.

He and others later said that between 12.45 and 1 a.m., a large number of Delhi Police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel reached the sprawling ground in what was clearly a meticulously planned operation.

A police officer said they wanted to serve the externment order on Ramdev because the Ramlila ground in the heart of Delhi had been allocated for holding a yoga camp and not for what it was being used.

Assuming that he may be arrested, Ramdev took up a mike and frantically appealed to his supporters not to indulge in violence. Very soon he jumped from the stage and ran into the mass of people in the tented enclosure, making similar appeals.

As his supporters threw a ring around him, the situation quickly slipped out of hand. Some protestors whipped out fire extinguishers to try to keep the police at bay.

Very soon, police personnel started using their batons on the crowds to disperse them, injuring many. Some people fell off the stage while trying to protect Ramdev.

Some of the demonstrators hurled stones at the police, who used them as missiles to hit back. Within three hours, most of the Ramlila ground had been emptied but a few hundred remained, angry and defiant.

Police said they were trying to clear out the last of the demonstrators and all roads leading to the Ramlila ground had been sealed.

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