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Christians back activist’s graft campaign

Hunger strike to press for an effective law against corruption with teeth

Christians back activist’s graft campaign
Anna Hazare (sitting left)
Bijay Kumar Minj, New Delhi and Mariola Sequeria, Ajmer

April 6, 2011

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Christians are among thousands of people in some 200 cities across India supporting a Hindu activist’s campaign for a law to fight corruption. Kisan Baburao Hazare, popularly known as Anna Hazare, 72, yesterday started a “fast unto death” in New Delhi to press for such a bill. Some 3,000 people, including scores of Catholic priests and nuns, sat with him at Jantar Mantar, a downtown venue for public protest. Hazare wants the government to enact a bill that gives wider powers to an ombudsman to fight corruption. Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi and Jesuit activist Father Cedrick Prakash were among those at the Jantar Mantar yesterday. Father Prakash said he supported Hazare's campaign because he believes it is the right of every Christian to fight corruption and support those involved in fighting corruption. "Unless Christians take the lead to fight corruption, they have no right to be called disciples of Christ," he said. “We want equal numbers of representatives from both civil and government sides” in the anti-graft body, Hazare, a bachelor who began his campaign for a clean society 20 years ago, told the gathering. The "India Against Corruption” movement launched by social and religious leaders, including Archbishop Concessao, has supported Hazare’s campaign. The movement has drafted the Jan Lokpal Bill (citizen’s ombudsman bill) to create an effective federal system to check corruption, redress grievances and protect whistle-blowers. Hazare’s campaign comes in the backdrop a series of corruption charges against various government agencies involving billions of rupees. “I have to take this extreme step because the law makers have become law breakers,” explained Hazare, a Magsaysay award winner. He urged people to fast for a couple of days with him “for a better and corruption free India.” He also asked them to pray for the success of the campaign. “Remain peaceful and have courage to go to jail, if required, in this next freedom movement,” he told his supporters. But the congress party which heads the federal coalition has accused Hazare of acting at the behest of Hindu fundamentalist groups. IC13878.1648

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