India Corrupt government - Baba leads protest!
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Uploaded on Jun 4, 2011
NEW DELHI (AFP) -- Indian police broke up a mass demonstration led by a popular yoga guru who had vowed to "fast unto death" in protest at government corruption, officials said.
Local media said around 30 people were injured during the police action but a police spokesman declined to comment on the report.
Swami Baba Ramdev began his hunger strike in a huge tent in New Delhi on Saturday, accompanied by a large number of his followers, in an anti-graft campaign that has piled fresh pressure on the embattled Congress party.
"We detained him for just 15 minutes and then released him," Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told AFP.
Bhagat said police had withdrawn permission earlier granted to Ramdev to hold the protest in the capital.
"We had given permission for only 5,000 people to attend his yoga camp but 50,000 turned up. We had not given any permission for public agitation," Bhagat said, denying media reports that the celebrity guru was in police custody.
"There were security issues," he said, without elaborating.
A large police contingent swooped down on Ram Lila in the early hours of Sunday, television footage showed. PTI news agency said around 30 people were taken to hospital after the ensuing melee.
Television networks broadcast images of smoke bellowing from what appeared to be teargas canisters fired during the mass eviction. Bhagat did not comment on the broadcasts.
Broadcaster NDTV said Ramdev had been asked to leave Delhi and had agreed to do so voluntarily, citing unnamed sources at the home ministry.
Ramdev's campaign has called for the repatriation of so-called "black money" -- cash stashed in foreign accounts suspected of being used for bribes and illegal transactions -- and the execution of corrupt government ministers.
His protest has rattled the government, apparently worried the campaign could snowball into a populist movement amid outrage over a slew of corruption allegations, notably a $39 billion telecom scandal.
The bearded guru, who claims he can "cure" homosexuality, cancer and AIDS through yoga and other alternative therapies, has accused politicians of gaining vast sums "from the people's hard-earned money".
"All corrupt ministers should be given the death sentence," said Ramdev, who has a huge TV following for his daily yoga show.
The government said Saturday the maximum penalty for corrupt bureaucrats would be "substantially increased" and pledged speedy trials for people accused of corruption, but stayed silent on the guru's demand that they should hang.
Ramdev, who has wide support from right-wing Hindu groups, has insisted his anti-graft movement is secular and invited Muslim clerics to share the podium for his fast.
Commentators have questioned the government's willingness to placate Ramdev, saying it highlighted the administration's weakness.
"Why is the government so afraid of Ramdev?" asked the tabloid Mail Today in a front page headline.
Others said Ramdev and another social activist, 73-year-old Anna Hazare, who fasted for 98 hours in April demanding a tough anti-corruption law, were holding India's democracy to ransom with no mandate from the people.
"For the first time in India's constitutional history, an elected government has been hijacked by intellectual charlatans... even some assorted nutcases and loonies," wrote Shekhar Gupta, editor of the Indian Express.
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