India PM: Yoga guru Baba Ramdev crackdown ‘unfortunate’

Indian PM Manmohan Singh has said that that the police crackdown on an anti-graft hunger strike by yoga guru Baba Ramdev in Delhi was “unfortunate”.But Mr Singh justified the move saying there was “no alternative”.Police in Delhi broke up the yoga guru’s fast over the weekend after angry exchanges with the authorities.Around 30 people were injured as police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of his supporters. An injured woman supporter is in a critical condition.Civil society groups and leading anti-corruption campaigners have condemned the police action on Baba Ramdev and his supporters.In his first remarks on Sunday night’s incident, Mr Singh told reporters: “It is unfortunate that the operation had to be conducted, but quite honestly, there was no alternative.”He said the government was “serious” about tackling corruption, but there was “no magic wand”.The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has criticised Mr Singh’s statement, saying it was “insensitive”.”It is unfortunate, unexpected and bizarre statement made by the prime minister. It’s inhuman, insensitive and complete carelessness on the part of the government,” party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.Separately the Supreme Court has directed the government to explain the circumstances leading to the crackdown at Ramlila Maidan, a ground in Delhi where the yoga guru was holding a hunger strike with thousands of supporters.”The brutal force that was used by the police to disperse innocent people who had gathered at the Ramlila Maidan in furtherance of the permission granted by the state is a matter of concern for the court,” the court said.

The government has justified the crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s hunger strike, saying that the yoga guru had reneged on his promises during negotiations.Baba Ramdev has vowed to continue his hunger strike against corruption in his home city of Haridwar.He wants the recovery of suspected bribe money allegedly held overseas.Baba Ramdev was detained by police on Sunday night and then sent out of Delhi.He has said that the police action on his fast in Delhi was a “blot on democracy and a conspiracy to kill me”.Baba Ramdev’s protest comes as the Congress-led Indian government is struggling with a corruption scandal surrounding the sale of mobile phone operating licences.He has also called for the death penalty for corrupt government officials.The yogi, whose daily TV programme is watched by millions, began his fast on Saturday after cabinet ministers failed to convince him to call it off. – BBC