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Anna and team to go head with fast in Mumbai

Ghaziabad/Ralegan Siddhi, Fri, 23 Dec 2011 ANI

Ghaziabad/Ralegan Siddhi, Dec 23 (ANI): veteran social activist and anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare and his aides have decided to go ahead with their plan to observe a hunger-strike stir against endemic graft at Mumbai's MMRDA grounds.


Earlier in the day, the Bombay High Court had turned down their plea seeking a waiver on the rates for the venue at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) grounds by the state government.


Though Hazare had announced a three-day protest-fast against corruption from December 27, suspense continued to prevail over the venue for the agitation.


Hazare and his team were also hoping to hold the fast at the city's Azad Maidan, but were stopped in their tracks by the Mumbai Police, who refused to grant the activists clearance until they ensured that the participating crowd will be limited to just 4000 people.


The veteran crusader had earlier shifted the venue of the demonstration from New Delhi to Mumbai due to the severe cold wave sweeping across north India.


Speaking to the mediapersons at Ghaziabad, Hazare's close aide and noted social activist Manish Sisodia asserted that the protest-fast would definitely be held at the MMRDA grounds.


"We have decided that the hunger strike-protest would be held at the MMRDA grounds in Mumbai. The fast will be observed for three days, and we believe that now the venue would be granted to us at a concession rate. Our activists in New Delhi will be holding the protest at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on December 27," Sisodia told mediapersons at Ghaziabad.


Hazare had earlier confirmed plans of holding a protest-fast in retaliation to the government draft of the Lokpal (ombudsman) Bill that was tabled before the Lok Sabha, lower house of the Indian parliament, a day ago.


In the draft, the government did not include the Prime Minister, judiciary, lower bureaucracy and Central Bureau of Investigation within the ambit of the Bill, triggering outrage from activists, civil society and opposition leaders alike, as they dubbed the legislation as 'weak' and a 'sham.'


Raising the threat of a fresh wave of anti-government protests across the country, a stung Hazare had warned the government to either get its act right and 'redraft' a strong Ombudsman Bill, or face the wrath of the masses in what he calls 'the second battle for independence.'


Assuring massive public response to Hazare's latest agitation, Sisodia revealed that the activists would also be voluntarily getting themselves jailed across India to step up pressure on the government over the Lokpal Bill.


"People are ready and eager to participate in demonstrations and protests in every district of the country. Since it is the holiday season, people are excited and want to use this time meaningfully in the agitations rather than spending it travelling. Once our three-day hunger strike is over, there would be 'fill the prison' protests that would also take place across India," added Sisodia.


Hazare, on the other hand, from his village Ralegan Siddhi reprimanded his activists for approaching the Bombay High Court with the plea for concessional rates for the venue.


He observed the judiciary is the land's supreme institution as such it should not have been the brought into the picture.


"The Indian judiciary is the country's supreme system. Today, when the issue is being discussed in the parliament, how can we ask the judiciary to do this or that? Our activists should not have moved the court. It was wrong on their part. But, it is good in a way. They have learnt their lesson," said Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi. (ANI)


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