Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hazare writes to Prime Minister about Aug 16 fast; warns against crushing it

New Delhi, Jul 18: Confident of people's backing, Gandhian Anna Hazare today formally wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regarding his decision to go on a hunger strike from August 16 if an effective Lokpal Bill is not presented in Parliament and warned the government that it would not be able to foil the protest like it did with Yoga guru Ramdev.

In his letter, the anti-corruption crusader referred to various civil society's demands regarding inadequacies of the Bill draft prepared by the government and demanded that these be corrected before it reaches Parliament.

"I have written to the Prime Minister about our fast at Jantar Mantar from August 16 today for the first time. It is our constitutional right to protest, so when the government says that it will crush our 'andolan' like Baba Ramdev's, it is not right," Mr Hazare said at a press conference here.

The social leader further said he was ready to face the consequences. "We are ready to get arrested and be beaten up but we have had enough of corruption. We are ready to sacrifice our lives... that is what I have written to the Prime Minister," he said.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and Swami Agnivesh also accompanied Mr Hazare.

Coming down heavily on the UPA leaders for their comment to impede his fast in the same way as Ramdev's, Mr Hazare said it is a democracy. The way people's support enabled him to go for an uninterrupted fast in April, they would back his team this
time too.

"The government is thinking itself to be a dictator but it should realise that it is people's servant," he pointed out. Mr Hazare and his team have been campaigning for a strong Lokpal Bill to fight corruption.

Mr Bhushan informed the gathering about their ongoing meetings with the Delhi police for holding the protest in the city. He said they have informed the police about their protest but their conditions to hold the fast were "unconstitutional".

"We informed the police about the fast on July 15. On the same day, we received a reply seeking an undertaking from us in the office of Commissioner of Police, well in advance. In that undertaking, they are asking for a 'No Objection Certificate'
(NOC) from the land owning agency, without which the permission would not be granted. This kind of demand is totally unconstitutional," Mr Bhushan said.

Reasoning further, he said the land owning agency in this case is New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). "Do you think they will give us the NOC?" he asked.

The meetings between the Hazare team and Delhi police in this regard are still underway, he said and added they were hopeful of sorting out the matter. Meanwhile, they would also apply for the NOC from NDMC.

Mr Kejriwal told reporters about a referendum they were going to hold in Chandni Chowk area, which happens to be Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal's constituency, to know the people's view on Lokpal.

"We have drafted an eight-page questionnaire which will reach people on July 21. They would independently reply to it in two days and submit it back to us by July 24. Then it would be checked through OMR process. It would tell the government what the people want," he said.

He added that interested persons will also be able to download the form from their website and answer it.

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