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Indian crusader agrees to 15-day fast

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

Indian crusader agrees to 15-day fast

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NEW DELHI – A renowned Indian anti-corruption crusader struck a deal with police to hold a 15-day public hunger strike against graft, ending a bizarre standoff at a New Delhi prison where the activist’s brief detention had turned into a sit-in protest.
Anna Hazare’s ordeal has struck a chord with Indians fed up with rampant corruption. Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through cities across the country to show their support for his demand for a revised government reform bill, while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused Hazare of trying to circumvent democracy.
Police had initially given Hazare permission to hold only a three-day public hunger strike, which he refused, but they relented and agreed to allow him to hold a 15-day protest at a venue in the capital, Kiran Bedi, another protest leader, wrote on her Twitter account.
“Delhi police removed the unacceptable conditions and offered 15 days permission. Anna accepted there,” Bedi wrote.
New Delhi police arrested Hazare on Tuesday to block his planned fast against corruption, but released him hours later. Hazare stopped eating Tuesday and refused to leave the jailhouse, demanding police allow him to hold the hunger strike publicly and indefinitely.
After he struck his deal with police, the hundreds camped outside the jail erupted in cheers, threw flower petals in the air and shouted “Anna has won”.
Here, an activist holds a placard during a rally in Bhubaneswar, India, in support of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare who is holding a hunger strike in a prison in New Delhi. Police arrested Hazare on Tuesday as he planned a public fast to push the scandal-embroiled government to frame tougher anti-corruption laws. (AP)