June 06, 2011 9:54:59 AM
Pioneer news service | New Delhi
The midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s supporters at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, has galvanised the civil society movement against corruption with Gandhian Anna Hazare deciding to boycott the Lokpal Bill joint drafting committee meeting on Monday and undertake fast on June 8 to protest the “inhuman brutality unleashed on the Yoga Guru and his supporters.
The development is a big set back for the Government, which had resorted to a divide and rule strategy in dealing with Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare. Ramdev on Sunday himself disclosed that Kapil Sibal wanted that Anna Hazare should not be present on his dais at Ramlila Maidan or the Government would back down on the black money issue.
Anna Hazare group was also uncomfortable with the presence of Sadhvi Ritambara at Ramlila Maidan on Saturday. Hazare had said he would decide on joining Ramdev’s agitation after coming to Delhi. But shocked by the Government brutality, Hazare camp has decided to rally around Baba.
“We condemn this action. This is a blot on humanity… This is like throttling democracy,” Hazare said.
Asking the Prime Minister to explain the reasons which provoked his Government to issue orders for this police action, Hazare said, “Sunday morning’s brutal assault of the Government reminds one of 1975 Emergency. It is almost an emergency like situation. Today is June 5, the Sampoorn Kranti Diwas. People of this country rose against Government injustice 35 years back. Time has come for the people to similarly rise against corruption.”
Eminent lawyer and member of the Lokpal Bill draft committee Shanti Bhushan said that Sunday morning’s incident, clearly showed the Government’s intent on crushing corruption. “Hence, we have decided not to attend the joint meeting on Lokpal Bill on Monday,” he said.
Comparing the Government’s action to that of Emergency in 1975, Bhushan said it shows to what extent the Government can go to protect black money offenders.
Accusing the Government of not being serious about dealing with corruption, Hazare announced a day-long fast at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on June 8. “Wherever you may be, you may stage a fast. And pray to God to give wisdom to this Government”, Hazare said.
Hazare’s hardening stand will add to the Government’s woes. Hazare had led an immensely successful five-day fast against corruption at the same venue in April, forcing the Government to finally accede to the demand of inclusion of civil society representatives in framing of a Jan Lokpal Bill.
Accusing the Government of being insincere in dealing with corruption, Hazare said the civil society would defy prohibitory orders on Wednesday at Jantar Mantar to protest the police action against Baba Ramdev’s movement.
“We have been interacting with this Government in the Joint Committee for the last one and a half months. The police action on peaceful protestors and the proceedings of earlier meetings clearly make government’s intentions in dealing with corruption suspect.
“The Government has been trying to crush anti-corruption movement. We have therefore decided not to attend Joint Committee meetings,” he told a press conference.
Hazare said his side was writing a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is the chairman of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, asking the government to make its stand public on some of the key issues related to the anti-corruption legislation.
“We have already made our stand clear on these issues. After we receive government’s response, we will decide whether any useful public purpose would be served in attending joint committee meetings,” he said.
On Ramdev, the Gandhian said he has to “sort out” the issues with the yoga guru before sharing the same platform. However, he was quick to add that he supported the issue of black money raised by Ramdev.
Another activist and Anna Hazare camp follower, Arvind Kejriwal said the action showed that this government was drunk with power and the whole country would raise their voices.
He said they would like the Prime Minister to explain what was the provocation for such a brutal action.