Prominent citizens appeal to Team Anna to call off fast (Lead)

August 2nd, 2012 - 5:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Anupam Kher New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) With fasting Team Anna members’ condition deteriorating, more than 20 prominent citizens, including former army chief V.K. Singh, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and film actor Anupam Kher, Thursday appealed to them to call off their fast against corruption.

Three Team Anna members Arvind Kejiwral, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai are on hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar here for the past nine days, while Anna Hazare is on fast since July 29. The condition of Kejriwal, Sisodia amd Rai has worsened and doctors have advised their hospitalisation, but they have refused to move.

The activists are pressing for the passage of the stringent anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill to set up an ombudsman.

In a signed appeal, 23 people from various walks of life called upon the fasting Team Anna members to give up their fast, and “join hands to create an alternative political force that is democratic, accountable, ethical and non-violent; and capable of leading an electoral revolution to democratize and decentralize power and make the power structures of the country more accountable to the people”.

Besides Singh, Ravi Shankar and Kher, the others to sign the appeal include former apex court judges N. Santosh Hegde and V.R. Krishna Iyer, journalist Kuldip Nayar and former chief election commission J.N. Lyngdoh.

Bollywood veteran Anupam Kher, reading out from the appeal, said: “Indian democracy stands at a crossroads. It needs a new wind. We urge the fasting volunteers to give up their fast in order to accept this historic challenge. We also urge all democratic citizens, movements and organisations to join hands with them for creation of such a movement.”

A volunteer of India Against Corruption (IAC) that is organising the protest fast, giving a health update on the fasting members told IANS: “Both (Kejriwal and Rai) are very weak, they are not able to sit and address the gathering. Rai’s health condition is far worse than of the others. Kejriwal has lost over three kg in the nine days of fast; both are lying down throughout the day.”

Worried that the situation could go out of hand if their health deteriorates, Delhi Police Wednesday told the fasting activists to heed the advice of government doctors and agree to get admitted to hospital.

In the morning, Team Anna member Kiran Bedi told reporters that the fasting members are “willing to sacrifice their lives for the country. They will not get prevailed upon. They are very determined.”

Security at the venue was tightened Thursday in view of the serial blasts in Pune Wednesday night.

“The security has been increased in and around Jantar Mantar since yesterday (Wednesday) night. We had stationed the bomb disposal squad there last night till early this morning,” a police official at Jantar Mantar told IANS.

Hundreds of supporters gathered at the site Thursday, which was a holiday in schools and colleges on account of Raksha Bandhan festival, in which sisters tie a silken thread on the wrists of their brothers in a symbolic gesture of their love. Many women supporters tied the Rakhi on Anna Hazare and other Team Anna members.

“Even though I don’t have a sibling of my own, I have got hundreds of them in those who tied Rakhi on me this year. I’m overwhelmed by your unconditional love,” Hazare told the gathering.

This is Hazare’s third indefinite fast for a Jan Lokpal Bill.

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