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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Corruption: Gandhians to launch indefinite hunger strike

PTI  New Delhi, January 16, 2011
First Published: 18:55 IST(16/1/2011) | Last Updated: 18:56 IST(16/1/2011)

Their vision might be failing but the passing years have refused to neither cloud the memory of their struggle for freedom nor killed their indomitable spirit.

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Five elderly Gandhians have now hit the streets in the capital demanding concrete action from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against "corrupt netas" by January 30, failing which they would starve unto death.

Shambhu Dutta, a 93-year-old Gandhian who took part in the 1942 Quit India Movement, said, "we were so proud to be a part of the freedom struggle, to have played a role in whatever way we could to help free the country from colonial grip."

"But 70 years after India's freedom I see little has changed. Then we fought against the British, today our fight is against corrupt netas," he told PTI.

Dutta is among the five Gandhians, who have braved the biting cold to stage a dharna for the last 15 days at Jantar Mantar here.

Their demands are: Appointment of an effective three-member Lokpal Commission, disqualification of candidates with criminal backgrounds and forfeiture of illegally acquired property of corrupt public servants, including MPs and MLAs.

Dutta is not sure whether their protest will make a difference. "But that is not our concern, our duty is to raise our voices because protest and debate is the essence of any democracy and we don't want to go to our beds thinking we have not done enough," he said.

"We want the Prime Minister to announce a concrete plan on how to deal with corruption. If he refuses to meet our demands we will launch an indefinite hunger strike," Dutta said.

Quipped Kumari R S Devi (84), who was also involved in the Movement, "when India attained freedom it felt like a baby was born after a long hard labour. What would you do when the baby as it grows goes astray? Reprimand the kid and bring him or her back on track."

Devi pointed to the over 50 crore citizens who do not get one square meal a day and how others thrived as a result of corruption.

"Why is there so much disparity? Shouldn't the government serve the people first instead of filling their own stomachs? Where has the feeling of nationalism that bound the nation for a common cause gone?" asked Devi, agitatedly thumping her walking stick on the road.

Among those fasting include social activist Govind Narain Seth (78), Murari Lal Gupta (90) who formerly worked in the Defence Ministry and KP Sahu (79), an educationist and a social activist from Orissa.


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