Protests gather momentum, over 1,000 detained in Mumbai (Second Lead)

August 16th, 2011 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 16 (IANS) Over 1,000 people were detained Tuesday for protesting the arrest of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, while thousands joined protests against graft at several spots in and around Mumbai.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik visited Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, the spot for the main agitation, to review the situation. However, the protestors tried to block his way.

Patnaik said that the protestors were carrying out peaceful protests. “They are carrying out peaceful protests and have not created any law and order problem so far,” he said.

When asked as to where the detained protestors were being taken, Patnaik said they were being detained at several police stations.

“We have not arrested anyone, only detained those who wanted to wilfully surrender. They have been taken to various police stations,” he said.

Meanwhile, police refused to release over 700 protestors who were detained near Opera House and Lamington Road, both in south Mumbai, stating that they might go to Azad Maidan and court arrest again.

“Police refused to let off over 700 protestors as they feared we might go to Azad Maidan and get ourselves arrested again,” an India Against Corruption (IAC) volunteer told IANS.

“Thousands are protesting peacefully, by fasting and holding placards to register their contempt against Annaji’s arrest,” another IAC volunteer told IANS.

“We are also seeking support to strike work tomorrow (Wednesday) and support Annaji,” he added.

Social activist Medha Patkar, who addressed people at Azad Maidan earlier, termed Hazare’s arrest as illegal and unconstitutional.

“Hamare desh mein hum sarkar (we are the government in our country) is the message we have to give out to the government,” Patkar said.

Volunteers also launched a signature campaign at the Churchgate local railway station in south Mumbai.

Most shopkeepers in Lokhandwala area of Andheri (northwest suburb of Mumbai) shut down their shops to support Hazare’s call for a strong Lokpal Bill.

The 2,000 residents of Ralegan-Siddhi village in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, which Hazare has turned into a model of environmental consciousness, observed a bandh or closure Tuesday. People in large numbers sought to court arrest. Others raised slogans at the state transport depot.

Similar protests against Hazare’s arrest were held in Pune too.

Hazare was Tuesday sent to seven days’ judicial custody after being arrested by Delhi Police ahead of his fast-unto-death in the national capital for a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal Bill.

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