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Indian anti-corruption activist on hunger strike

05 april 2011, 18:05
Indian social activist Anna Hazare launched an indefinite hunger strike Tuesday to push for changes to a draft bill facilitating corruption complaints against the prime minister and cabinet, AFP reports.

Hazare, who has received several federal awards for his work, complained that the draft of the Lokpal (Ombudsman) Bill was formulated without the input of civil society groups and had been watered down by ministers.

"It is a law for the people and should be formulated by the people," said Hazare, 72, who has vowed to fast "unto death" unless recommendations by various activist groups are incorporated.

The bill would empower citizens to file complaints of corruption through an ombudsman against the prime minister, ministers and MPs.

Hazare told reporters that it should include "stronger provisions," including empowering the ombudsman to order trials and recommend severe sentences for corrupt officials.

He also argued that the current parliamentary committee responsible for the bill included various politicians who have themselves been accused of graft or fraud.

"How can we allow corrupt ministers to formulate a law to tackle corruption," he said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's left-leaning Congress government, re-elected in 2009, has become mired in graft allegations ranging from the cut-price sale of telecoms licences to corruption surrounding last year's Commonwealth Games and vote-buying.

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