Breaking News in India: Anna Hazare, a prominent anti-corruption activist, was arrested and prevented from going on hunger strike to protest government inaction on the Lokpal Bill.
You can follow this story on the internet, but I wanted to share with you a press release from a group that I’ve come to know more about, the National Alliance of People’s Movements. This group (network, really), is supporting the Hazare effort though also seeking to expand the definition of “anti-corruption” to basic issues around democracy, economic justice, and the effects of globalization. Here’s the press release: you can check out their webpage at www.napm-india.org.
Such organizations and documents allow us to move from the fictional world of The White Tiger to struggles around corruption and democracy taking place on the ground in India today. Note the way that independence day is cited early on, asking what independence means if peaceful protest is not allowed.
Thousands arrested: Countrywide support pours it: Struggle to intensify
August 16, New Delhi : It is a shame that the UPA Government chose to arrest Anna Hazare and thousands of satyagrahis for demanding an effective Lokpal and for betraying the people of the nation rather than allowing a peaceful protest fast to be held, just after the independence day. NAPM condemning the illegal arrest of activists, in numerous states and cities across the country held protest actions today, burnt the weak Govt. Lokpal, met District Collectors, held human chains, took out rallies and called upon the government to heed this national call, not just for a strong Lokpal Bill, but bringing in systemic change against the corrupt, corporatized, communal, consumerist governance and development model.
It is absolutely unwarranted and unjustifiable that the Government, instead of continuing to engage in a dialogue, with the serious issue of corruption being raised by various people’s groups has taken this regressive move to arrest activists and 5,000 campaigners and clamp Section 144 in the national capital and across cities. We express our total disdain of this approach by the Government. The Government by such undemocratic action has weakened itself.
NAPM has also already stated that this upsurge across the country must reach out to and involve the lakhs of dalits, adivasis, unorganized workers, urban and rural poor, women who actually face the brunt of corruption day in and day out. UPA or NDA, State or Centre; corruption has become an everyday menace at all levels and the people have reached a position of saturation and are not going to tolerate or take in and corruption anymore, whether by the State, society or private corporations.
NAPM also condemns the gunning down of Shehla Masood, RTI activist from Bhopal, who has been struggling to expose corruption in the city. The struggle, across India, is no more one for an effective Lokpal alone; it is a struggle to reclaim our democracy from the corrupt, fascist forces ruling and controlling our country, its resources and the people. We demand the immediate release of Anna and all the arrested activists, an unconditional apology to the nation from the Prime Minister and meaningful dialogue with all people’s struggles on the issue of strong anti-corruption legislation and systemic reforms.
NAPM National Convenor, Bhupender Singh Rawat courted arrest today along with many others. NAPM conveners are also gathering in Delhi in support and with resolve to take the movement forward for a larger change. People are continuing to throng the streets and demand justice, accountability and answers from a defensive Government. This is just a beginning of a new struggle, which the Govt. cannot escape from.
Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Prafulla Samantara, Maj Gen Sudhir Vombatkere, Suniti S R, Sister Celia, Gabriele D, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishna Raju, Suhas Kolhekar, Akhil Gogoi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Mukta Shrivastava, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar
National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai – 400 014;
6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316