Indian Anti-Graft Crusader Freed to Start Hunger Strike

Tens of thousands rally in support of Anna Hazare
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2011 3:40 AM CDT
Indian yoga guru Swami Baba Ramdev gestures to supporters of activist Anna Hazare as they gather outside Tihar Jail in New Delhi yesterday.    (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Indian authorities, facing huge protests in cities and towns across the country, have backed down and agreed to allow anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare to begin a 15-day hunger strike. The 74-year-old activist was arrested along with at least a thousand supporters Tuesday. Despite an order for his release, he had refused to leave jail until authorities lifted conditions they had imposed on his proposed hunger strike, reports the New York Times.

Hazare's call for the creation of an independent national anti-corruption agency has gained massive support. His efforts have led to a bill to create such an agency, but the government has tried to water it down by making the agency strictly advisory and exempting many top officials from its scrutiny. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose administration has been severely shaken by Hazare's protests, says that while the activist may be inspired by high ideals, his actions are "totally misconceived."

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