In a blatant display of absolute power, the UPA government has re-established the dangerous precedent set during the Emergency in 1975. The scenes that unfolded on Tuesday — the arrest of Anna Hazare and his close associates to prevent the Gandhian leader from undertaking an indefinite fast against the government Lokpal bill — reflected the same abuse of power. Only the person who triggered the response had changed. It was indeed a dark day for modern India.
By arresting Mr. Hazare, the government committed a blunder. Is our country truly democratic? Do common people have no right to raise their voices when they feel that governance is not right?
The spontaneous protests across the country in response to Mr. Hazare's arrest were reflective of people's aversion to and disgust for corruption in high places.
T. Prabhakara Rao,
At this juncture, it is pointless to debate which of the two Lokpal bills is better. The real question is: do we have the right to exercise our fundamental rights? Let us not remain dormant in the crusade against corruption. Let us show the government there is no place for authoritarianism in the largest democracy. I have dedicated my Ramzan fast to the cause.
Md. Tarique Farid,
The silence of the good is worse than the violence of the bad. We should not only support Annaji but also start a new movement for the right to recall our elected representatives.
The mask of democracy has fallen off the face of the UPA government. Those who remember 1975 will understand that history is repeating itself in shocking detail. History holds many lessons but only for those who care. The saddest part is some eloquent intellectuals, marginalised by the ground swell of public opinion against corruption, have chosen to side with the government.
Mr. Hazare's arrest was a desperate move by the government to douse the burning embers of the anti-corruption wave sweeping the country. For the people though, Mr. Hazare's movement seems to be the only hope for a better life.
Sunil P. Shenoy,
The UPA government's attitude is autocratic. It has failed to come up with a legitimate reason for invoking Section 144. Mr. Hazare's detention even before he began his fast was against his basic right to freedom of speech and expression.
I am an ordinary citizen and my views may not be heard. But I would like to ask the Congress a few questions. Was Mahatma Gandhi an elected representative when he started his revolution in South Africa? Were Jaiprakash Narayan and Vinobha Bhave elected members? The government calls Mr. Hazare's acts an insult to Parliament. Is not the presence of corrupt leaders a greater insult?
Even if Parliament is the only forum that can take a decision on making laws, what is wrong in anyone protesting peacefully on an important issue?
The only way to awaken people from their slumber is to conduct agitations, as proposed by Team Anna, across the country.
A citizen has a right to protest peacefully against not only a proposed bill but also a law. If the protest gathers huge support, people's representatives are expected to recognise the popular will. Mr. Hazare's protest seeks to bring people's will to the forefront.
I write this letter because like many others I am concerned about rampant corruption. I have seen my parents pay to get every right thing done ... things that are our right, from a driving licence to my grandfather's pension. I have seen government departments take bribes. Mr. Hazare has stood up against all this. I expect people and the media to support him in his fight against corruption.
The means adopted by the UPA government, using the Delhi Police, to deal with activists protesting for transparency in the Lokpal bill, were unfortunate. They are not just a group of four or five persons. They represent millions of patriotic Indians in India and abroad.
The UPA government's claim that the terms for Mr. Hazare's proposed fast were set by the Delhi Police is hard to buy. The police could not have imposed the conditions without the government's knowledge. Had it let Mr. Hazare go on a fast, it would have been lauded.
But now, the support for the social activist has become the strongest with the numbers of supporters increasing.
Mr. Hazare is an idealist but he is not pragmatic. The movement against corruption requires an effective leader. Corruption, dishonesty and indiscipline are deep-rooted. The Lokpal bill is not a brahmastra that can eliminate corruption. Let Parliament pass the bill in some form. The deficiencies can be addressed later. No one doubts Mr. Hazare's integrity. He should stop diverting his attention by reacting to the slanderous campaign against him.
The government did the right thing. Mr. Hazare's insistence on undertaking a fast could have led to anarchy in the name of a Jan Lokpal bill.