Anna Hazare reaches Rajghat, hundreds join in support


New Delhi : Veteran social activist Anna Hazare, who has vowed to fast unto death, Tuesday reached Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat to press for a stronger anti-graft Lokpal Bill through greater involvement of civil society in its formulation.

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The Magsaysay Award winner activist, along with supporters, reached Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat at 10 a.m., after which he is expected to stage a march from India Gate to the Jantar Mantar, a stone’s throw from Parliament House, where Hazare will begin his fast.

Those accompanying Hazare include Right To Information (RTI) activist Arind Kejriwal and former top cop Kiran Bedi.

“I will fast unto death as announced earlier, as the prime minister has refused to form a joint committee with civil society members in it for the formulation of the Lokpal Bill. Even if I lose my life, I will have no regret, my life is dedicated to the nation,” Hazare had said at a press meet earlier.

Hazare and several other civil society activists are pressing for adoption of an alternate bill, called Jan Lokpal Bill.

The Jan Lokpal Bill calls for setting up ombudsmen – Lokpal and Lokayuktas (in states) – independent of the government’s control in order to check corruption in public life.

Activists say investigations by ombudsmen should be completed in one year and there should be a minimum jail term of five years and maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

The government’s version, however, recommends a prison term of a minimum six months and a maximum punishment of seven years for corruption.

Hundredrs of supporters have already gathered at Rajghat, India Gate and Jantar Mantar where Hazare will be staging his protest march.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had Monday expressed “deep disappointment” over Hazare’s decision to go ahead with the planned hunger strike, but said he had enormous respect for the social worker and his mission.