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Hunger strike guru vows to fight on

An Indian yoga guru leading tens of thousands of people protesting over corruption has promised to resume a hunger strike after police removed him from the capital.

Baba Ramdev, along with tens of thousands of supporters, began fasting on Saturday in a massive camp in New Delhi, despite reaching an 11th-hour agreement with the government on his demands.

Police swooped on the protest camp, using tear gas to break it up and triggering a stampede and clashes with rock-throwing protesters that left dozens injured on both sides.

Mr Ramdev evaded police for nearly two hours by dressing in women's clothing, and he asked women supporters to form a protective ring around him while he refused police orders to leave the area.

He was briefly detained before flying to the northern state of Uttarakhand, where his sprawling ashram, or spiritual headquarters, is located. He had tried to go to the Delhi suburb of Noida to resume the fast there but was barred by authorities.

Mr Ramdev called the crackdown a "blot on democracy and a conspiracy to kill me" and vowed to continue his hunger strike from Haridwar on the Ganges river.

The protest campaign is part of a push by civil society to demand government accountability after months of scandal-plagued politics that have embarrassed officials with allegations of improper telecoms licensing, illegal land acquisitions and irregularities in staging last year's Commonwealth Games.

Mr Ramdev and other critics accuse the government of failing to act against Indians who illegally stash money abroad, while doing little to end a widespread culture of corruption.

The orange-robed Mr Ramdev - who preaches health and happiness while striking complex yoga poses on his wildly popular TV show - jumped onto the anti-corruption campaign weeks ago when 73-year-old activist Anna Hazare captivated national attention with his own four-day hunger strike.


From Belfast Telegraph