Tuesday, August 16, 2011

India threatens to erupt as activists arrested

THE Indian government was last night staring down the barrel of a mass democracy protest after police arrested prominent anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare hours before he was due to stage his second protest fast in six months.

Police took the septuagenarian, self-described Gandhian and several social activist colleagues into custody early yesterday morning, citing the potential for civil unrest and violence at a planned public rally in Delhi.

Hazare was due to begin his second hunger strike yesterday against perceived widespread corruption within government, and to fast-track the creation of an independent anti-graft ombudsman with unprecedented prosecution powers.

The police action sparked uproar among Delhi protesters who had gathered in preparation for the sit-in, and a call from allied social activists for a mass India-wide protest today. Within hours, protests had spread to other cities as social activists began petitioning for a nationwide shutdown, casting the issue as a fight to restore democracy. (more)