Protests spread across Karnataka against Hazare’s arrest (Lead)

August 16th, 2011 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Bangalore, Aug 16 (IANS) Thousands of people, including college and school students, came out on the streets Tuesday across cities and towns in Karnataka protesting the arrest of civil society activist Anna Hazare in New Delhi earlier in the day and demanded a strong law to fight corruption.

Within hours of news on Hazare’s arrest spreading through SMS, television channels, news websites and social networking sites, people from various walks of life gathered at Freedom Park in central Bangalore to raise slogans against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and Delhi Police.

Waving national flags and carrying banners and placards with Hazare’s’s messages against corruption, hundreds of civil society activists and members of NGOs began a protest fast at the venue seeking the release of Hazare and his team members.

Former Supreme Court judge N. Santosh Hegde, who joined the protesters, condemned the arrests and called for a crusade against corruption.

“Such arrests cannot stop the agitation against corruption and will not silence people’s voice against graft and for strong measures to curb it,” Hegde said in his speech to the gathering.

Hegde was one of the five civil society members of the joint Lokpal Bill draft committee the central government had set up following Hazare’s four-day fast early this year.

Hegde, who retired as Lokayukta Aug 2, after submitting an explosive report on illegal mining leading to the resignation of B.S. Yeddyurappa from the chief minister’s post July 31, reiterated that the prime minister should be under the Lokpal.

Addressing about 500 youths from several information technology and bio-technology firms in the Electronics City, about 30 km from this tech hub, Hegde said it was high time people supported the Hazare movement to bring the prime minister and the higher judiciary under the Lokpal.

“The fight against corruption should be taken to the logical conclusion as the people of this country are fed up with the prevailing system, political parties, governments, ministers and bureaucrats as nothing moves in the corridors of power without bribes,” he said.

In Hubli, about 380 km from here, about 100 activists courted arrest after taking out a protest rally against Hazare’s arrest and burning effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Hundreds of college and school students, joined processions taken out by workers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other organisations.

Shouting slogans against the UPA government for arresting and jailing Hazare, they sought justice and a strong law against graft.

Protest rallies and demonstrations were also held at Gulbarga, Udupi, Raichur, Mangalore and Belgaum.

In Mysore, about 150 km from here, a day-long sit-in was held at Gandhi Square in the city centre with Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement founder R. Balasubramaniam calling for support by the people for the campaign against corruption.

“To observe fast and hold protest is a fundamental right in a democracy. People from all walks of life should join the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement of Hazare and support his efforts for a strong law against the cancer of corruption,” Balasubramaniam told a gathering of about 500 people.

Lawyers in the city boycotted courts for the day as a mark of solidarity with Hazare’s fight against graft and in protest over his arrest.

Members of the faculty of the Mysore University staged a sit-in on the campus.

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