Civil society members condemn police action against Ramdev


New Delhi : Civil society members Sunday condemned the midnight police crackdown to end yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s anti-corruption mass hunger strike, calling as “undemocratic” the use of force against peaceful protesters at Ramlila Ground here.

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Swami Agnivesh, a leading member of social reformer Anna Hazare’s anti-graft movement distanced himself from Ramdev but termed the police action as “unfortunate”.

“This is an unfortunate incident… It cannot be condoned in any manner,” Agnivesh said.

He spoke hours after police forcibly removed Ramdev and his supporters from the sprawling protest venue a little after Saturday midnight. The police used tear gas shells and canes to disperse thousands of the yoga guru’s supporters to end the indefinite hunger strike he had launched less than 24 hours ago.

Agnivesh said there was no need for police to storm the protest venue at midnight. “The protesters should have been allowed to stay back till morning… and then taken out peacefully. This is totally uncalled for,” he said.

However, he distanced himself from Ramdev and his movement saying whatever had transpired between the yoga guru and the government over his demands was not transparent.

“I don’t agree what was happening between the government and Ramdev. I dont understand the kind of fishy deal. Why the media and people of the country were kept in the dark by the government. The whole thing was undemocratic,” he said.

Eminent lawyer and activist Shanti Bhushan, who is the co-chair of the anti-corruption Lokpal bill drafting committee, said the government had “no right to take action against peaceful people”.

“It was a very peaceful demonstration.. People have fundamental right to peacefully protest,” Bhushan said.

He also distanced himself from Ramdev and said: “I am no supporter of Baba Ramdev but I am the supporter of the people of India. I don’t agree with whatever he does but he was voicing his concern against corruption.”