Aug. 16 - Activist Anna Hazare is arrested before start of mass hunger strike to press home demands for tougher anti-corruption laws. Paul Chapman reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Indian police arrested activist Anna Hazare hours before the start of a mass hunger strike in a campaign for tough new laws to combat corruption. The 74-year-old planned to start a hunger strike to the death on Tuesday. At least 400 of his followers were also detained but not before some spoke to waiting media. SOUNDBITE: Kiran Bedi, social activist, saying (Hindi): "Anna asked the police who came to detain him what was his crime. The police replied 'we were ordered to do so and we are obeying orders'." India's Home Secretary says it's all very straightforward. SOUNDBITE: R.K. Singh, Indian Home Secretary, saying (English): "The police spoke to him. He stated that he intends to defy the prohibition orders so he has been detained." Both houses of parliament have been adjourned after opposition protests over Hazare's arrest. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his ruling Congress Party have toughened their stance against him in recent days. A series of recent corruption scandals including a telecoms bribery scam that cost the government 39 billion dollars are causing wider damage. The scandals have overshadowed Singh's reform agenda, hit investor confidence, and distracted parliament in the face of inflation and higher interest rates. Hazare called off an earlier hunger strike when the government agreed to his demands for an independent ombudsman to help weed corruption out of Indian politics. His campaign's back on after activists branded the draft bill as toothless. The memory of Mahatma Gandhi's peaceful fight for independence from the British is embedded in India's national consciousness. The crackdown against a campaigner using similar tactics in 2011 has shocked many. Paul Chapman, Reuters