Police break up Baba Ramdev's anti-graft fast

NEW DELHI Sun Jun 5, 2011 9:59pm IST

Yoga guru Swami Ramdev speaks during a news conference in Haridwar June 5, 2011. Police broke up a mass fast against graft led by Ramdev on Sunday, risking more political headaches for the scandal-tainted government. REUTERS/Stringer

Yoga guru Swami Ramdev speaks during a news conference in Haridwar June 5, 2011. Police broke up a mass fast against graft led by Ramdev on Sunday, risking more political headaches for the scandal-tainted government.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Related Topics

A statue of Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, is carried in a taxi to a place of worship on the first day of the ten-day-long Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Ganesh Chaturthi Festival

During Ganesh Chaturthi idols will be taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing, and will be immersed in a river or the sea in accordance with Hindu faith.  Slideshow 

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Police broke up a mass fast against graft led by India's most famous yoga guru on Sunday, risking more political headaches for the scandal-tainted government.

A senior ruling party figure said the saffron-robed swami Ramdev had used the anti-corruption event to incite people.

Police detained the guru and flew him to Haridwar, the centre of his $40 million-a-year global yoga and health empire.

The campaign by Ramdev, who plans to launch a political party ahead of the 2014 general election, followed allegations of kickbacks at the Commonwealth Games and a telecoms scam that may have cost the government $39 billion.

Political analysts said the police action could spark protests by Ramdev's millions of supporters and dent the government's popularity in electorally important northern states.

Ramdev accused the police of brutality when they broke up the hunger strike which he and thousands of supporters started in New Delhi on Saturday in a marquee the size of four football pitches.

"The permission was for a yoga camp for 5,000, not for 50,000 people for agitation. We have cancelled the permission and asked them to move out," said Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat.

Police said 39 supporters of the guru and 23 policemen were injured in the pre-dawn raid.

"My hunger strike has not ended. I will continue fasting," Ramdev later told a news conference in his base of Haridwar, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas.


Ramdev, who rose from an illiterate family to host a television show with 30 million viewers, carries such weight in India that four government ministers met him when he arrived by private jet in New Delhi.

Tapping into spiralling voter anger at corruption as Asia's third largest economy booms, the guru has called on the government to pursue billions of dollars in illegal funds abroad and the withdrawal of high denomination bank notes.

Graft has long been part of daily life in India and can affect everything from getting an electricity connection to signing business deals.

But the latest scandals -- that have seen a minister jailed and business billionaires questioned -- are unprecedented.


The main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed the Congress Party-led coalition government and called for a 24-hour protest.

India's leading communist party condemned police action, calling it "deplorable and short-sighted", while Mayawati, the chief minister of the country's most populous Uttar Pradesh state, asked for the Supreme Court to order a probe.

Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who had earlier questioned the Swami's luxurious lifestyle and called the fast a "five-star" protest, accused Ramdev of inciting people.

Ramdev's fast came after a similar one by social activist Anna Hazare, whose April campaign struck a chord with millions of Indians and forced the government to make concessions on an anti-corruption bill that effectively gives India an independent ombudsman to battle graft.

Hazare said he would hold a one-day fast on June 8 to protest against the police crackdown and would also boycott a meeting on Monday of the panel entrusted with drafting of the anti-graft bill.

Both Hazare and Ramdev's campaigns have underscored how India's traditional national parties are struggling to deal with the growing anger among middle class Indians increasingly fed up with graft.

(Additional reporting C.J. Kuncheria and Annie Banerji; Writing by Alistair Scrutton; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
lalbka wrote:
It is obvious this man is misusing his popularity in Yoga to misguide the people of India. If people like him keep going on Satyagrah one after another, the productivity and reputation of India will be demaged which this country can not afford at any cost. He has made millions by his mastery in Yoga and he should stick to it. He should not politicise LOKPAL. IF HE THINKS HE WILL GET MORE POPULAR BY DOING SO, HE IS MISTAKEN. LOKPAL is being misused even before it is formed. How sad!

Jun 05, 2011 7:07pm IST  --  Report as abuse
SudhirGopal wrote:
Police should not have done this to him. If the governemnt does not allow him to do these drama what will happen to his popularity? Leave popularity, he has got an ambitious business plan. He too wants grow like any other business man. He has got business in and outside India. He is wealthier than any politian. Is the Government anti-development? Sorry he does not accept black money. Only dollars! If not dollars, land, islands etc.
Even if there is any anti-corruption bill, nobody can touch him. Why? he is not a politian. Only politians are corrupt. Moreover all his transactions are in his trust’s name. Still people may ask, why a sanyasi need money. Aare baba.. this is Kaliyuga.. here money and power speaks. He preferes to wear safrone clothes even though his/trust assets worth billions of dollars. what a sarvasangaparithyagi!!!

Jun 05, 2011 10:07pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Modi In Japan


Book Talk

Book Talk

Reema Abbasi and a glimpse of Pakistan’s Hindu past  Full Article 

Coal Block Scam

Coal Block Scam

Govt urges Supreme Court to not cancel some 'illegal' coal mines.  Full Article 

Market Pulse

Market Pulse

Nifty surges past 8,000 to record high.  Full Article 

Pakistan Protests

Pakistan Protests

Pakistani protesters clash with police, soldiers secure state TV.  Full Article 

McCarthy Marries

McCarthy Marries

Actress Jenny McCarthy marries pop star Donnie Wahlberg  Full Article 

U.S. Open

U.S. Open

Federer marches on as wild weather, upsets hit U.S. Open   Full Article 

New iPhone

New iPhone

New Apple iPhone to have "mobile wallet" function - Bloomberg.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage