“If a politician is attacked, all get angry, but that is not the case when farmers take their lives”
Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare on Tuesday admitted that his “Just one slap?” statement after the attack on Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar was violent but he did not consider this violence wrong.
In a new blog post, Mr. Hazare justified his comments stating that he had used such strong words many times “for the betterment of society.”
The social activist asked what would make Indian politicians angry, if not the widespread corruption and injustice.
“I admit that I committed violence when I said that [Just one slap?]. But for the betterment of society, I do not consider this violence wrong. Many politicians felt very bad about the slapping incident. Many of them got very angry also. But it is important to discuss why that youth slapped.”
NCP workers had stormed Mr. Hazare's village Ralegan Siddhi to condemn his statement. The social activist later clarified that he condemned violence in any form. “Sharad Pawar's supporters hurled the dirtiest abuse at me. I have kept a CD of the incident for my record. At an appropriate time, I will play it before the public,” Mr. Hazare said in the blog.
Launching a sharp attack on Mr. Pawar, Mr. Hazare alleged that the former Maharashtra Chief Minister's record was not unblemished.
The activist charged that as Agriculture Minister, Mr. Pawar wasted crores of public money when he imported rotten wheat. “Since it was not edible, the wheat was buried in huge pits. But none of the politicians got angry about it?”
The 74-year-old activist questioned why one slap made politicians so angry. “For no fault of theirs, the farmers are lathicharged, shot at and killed when they demand their rights. But this does not cause any anger in our agriculture-based country. This is unfortunate. Many farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra. But this did not make any politician angry? This is unfortunate,” he wrote.
Recounting an incident this August when a farmers' protest against diversion of irrigation water for a pipeline for industrial use turned violent, Mr. Hazare said: “The farmers protested at Mawal near Pune. They were shot at. Three farmers died. But the politicians still did not get angry about it.”
Mr. Hazare recalled the hunger strike he undertook in 1989 when Maharashtra “went through severe power crises.”
After he was forcibly taken to hospital, people protested, blocked roads.
“The government fired at farmers because of which four agriculturists died and many of them were wounded. But none of the politicians got angry. Sharad Pawar was the Chief Minister at that time. It is 22 years since that protest and the electricity problem is still there,” he said.
“The politicians got so angry with that one slap that many buses were burnt, national property was destroyed, many shops were damaged, many private vehicles were damaged — but this did not make anyone angry. This is unfortunate”
Referring to Justice P.B. Sawant's report in which three Ministers were indicted for corruption, Mr. Hazare said, “Last 5-6 years, I have been demanding that action should be taken under law against these Ministers, whom Justice Sawant Commission has found guilty of corruption. The government is still not willing to take action against them under law.”
He said that after the Lokpal Bill was passed, he would take up the issue of punishing the Ministers.
“Many people got angry due to one slap, but when the people who have dedicated their entire life for society and country are victimised, then no one gets angry.”
Mr. Hazare, who is undergoing traction and treatment for spondylitis at Ralegan Siddhi ahead of his one-day agitation in New Delhi on December 11, appealed to the people not to destroy public property while expressing anger against him.