Ramdev’s fast: police crackdown on Baba’s supporters

Ramdev’s fast: police crackdown on Baba’s supporters

New Delhi: Baba Ramdev’s indefinite fast demanding immediate action to bring back black money stashed abroad and corruption came to a halt in the wee hours of Sunday morning after a police crackdown at the venue, Ramlila Ground.

His supporters at the Ground said a sizeable amount of policemen and rapid action force (RAF) swooped the area around midnight and resorted to lathicharge and tear gas to end the fast and dissipate the crowd.

“Around 1am (on Sunday) Baba’s supporters encircled him to save him but the policemen captured him and took him away," said Sunita Arye who came from Bhiwani, Haryana, to attend the fast.

The police action came after the 46-year-old yoga guru had accused the government previous night of betraying on the issue.

Meanwhile, the Ground wore a deserted look filled with khaki clad policemen and the iron gates locked from inside. Batches of people in ten or so were allowed to go in one by one to gather their belongings. Entry into the Ground was prohibited for everyone, including the media persons.

Section 144 was imposed on Saturday night at the area under which gathering of people is not allowed.

Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said Baba Ramdev was detained as he was leaving the site. Earlier, home secretary G. K. Pillai had maintained that he was not arrested or detained.

The Safdarjung Airport saw Ramdev’s supporters gathering there after some media reports said the yoga guru was being taken in an aircraft from there.

Pawan Kumar of Bharat Swabhimaan, the trust under which the agitation was happening, said the supporters are unaware of where Ramdev is. “At least someone from the authorities should come and tell us where he was the whole of last night and where he is being taken," he added.

Meanwhile, the other venue of the agitation - Jantar Mantar - was cordoned off with at least two layers of barricading.

, the venue for Baba Ramdev’s indefinite fast

Hours after the police crackdown at Ramlila Ground the main opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemned the government’s act and said that the issue must be raised in the Parliament.

“What happened last night is a shame to the democratic history of India...On behalf of the Bharatiya Janata Party, I condemn the UPA (United Progressive Alliance), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi...it is everybody’s democratic right to agitate," BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said while addressing media persons at Lucknow on Sunday.

The BJP has also called for a 24-hour ‘Satyagraha’ at Rajghat from Sunday evening, which might be attended by its key leaders including Lal Krishna Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh.

Advani said that the UPA government “owes an apology to the people of the country." He also said that President Pratibha Patil should convene an emergency meeting of the Parliament.

Meanwhile, Congress leader and telecom minister Kapil Sibal while addressing media persons on Sunday said the crackdown was the final resort for the government after Ramdev violated the permission given to him. “What is crucial is that a swami who teaches yoga should not teach politics...the permission given to him was for yoga and for 5,000 people, however, 50,000 people ended up coming there," he said.

He added that the government had to keep in mind the law and order situation in the city.