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Police crackdown on Ramdev was a throttling of democracy, says Anna Hazare

June 8, 2011 - New Delhi

Gandhian Anna Hazare on Wednesday said the police crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his supporters during their agitation against corruption at the Ramlila grounds, was a throttling of democracy.

Talking to reporters here at Rajghat, Hazare said the act was a threat to the democratic rights of the people and if the government continues to follow the path of dictatorship then nobody would come out against corruption."

"The incident was throttling of democracy, that act was a threat to the democratic rights of the people. Nobody out of scare would participate in a protest like this in future, if you follow the path of dictatorship. It is our constitutional right to protest. It is not a crime to protest over atrocities, we will have to do it. This brings success to the democracy. If you crush our agitation, we will not tolerate it and will condemn it," he added.

Hazare also said the government is trying to "scare" people off the protest.

Asked whether he will seek security for himself, Hazare said he will never do so and he is not afraid of death.

"Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev never asked for security. If they would have done, our country would not be free," he added.

He said the protest against injustice is not wrong. It leads to a successful democracy. If in such a situation you try to disrupt it, that's not right.

Social activist and former police officer Kiran Bedi said this is the "second war of independence against corruption, extortion and bribery."

"I called Anna 'Gandhi' yesterday. It made some people very angry but large number of the people very happy. Why we have to sit here today? We didn't raise our voices against corruption earlier so we landed up here. We are not against politicians. We approached them, but they did not take up the struggle, so Anna had to take up the fight," she said.

Thousands of Anna supporters have gathered at the Rajghat to sit on fast with him. A number of youths wearing Gandhi caps and elderly people were seen at the spot waving the tricolour.

A number of supporters of Ramdev also joined in the protest, including Swami Santoshanand, who shared dais with the yoga guru at Ramlila on June 4.

Delhi Police have made elaborate security arrangements to ensure that the day-long protest passes off peacefully.

Anna and his supporters, who have launched the India Against Corruption campaign,nitially wanted to protest at Jantar Mantar, but Delhi police denied them permission for this citing law and order concerns.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been in place at Jantar Mantar after Saturday's incident at Baba Ramdev's gathering at the Ramlila grounds.


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