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Protesters head for the gates

delhi Updated: Aug 23, 2011 02:22 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
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Protesters across the country on Monday responded to Anna Hazare's call to stage demonstrations at the residences of ministers and parliamentarians. As police intervened to maintain law and order at these spots, political parties started closing ranks against what they see as "coercive tactics" of Team Anna.

In Delhi, at least 400 protesters were detained for 'breach of public peace' outside the official residences of Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, chief minister Sheila Dikshit and some MPs.

In Guwahati, hundreds of Hazare supporters, beating drums and cymbals, staged a demonstration outside the official residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for nearly half-an-hour.

Initially encouraged by Hazare to sing bhajans and raise slogans, the protesters also resorted to shouting anti-government slogans, forcing the police to barricade roads in some parts of Lutyen's Delhi.

The Congress leadership has asked its MPs not to confront the protesters. "Family members stay at home. Now if someone decides to come there to agitate then nothing else remains to be said. A movement should try to reach the hearts of the people, not homes of leaders," said law minister Salman Khurshid.

In Kolkata, demonstrations were held outside the house of UPA's minister of state for health Sudip Bandyopadhyay.

Top Left leaders also got a call from the BJP to discuss a joint strategy, after TV grabs showed agitators protesting before ministers' homes were telecast. “The government must settle the Lokpal issue through negotiations with civil society. But we oppose demonstrations outside MPs' houses and giving deadline to the Parliament to pass a bill. We see these as coercive tactics,” said Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury feels Hazare's deadline for accepting his version of the bill is unacceptable: "They are exercising their democratic right to protest. But it should not reach ministers' homes. Also, we, parliamentarians, have duties to perform."

In Patna, heated exchange took place between India Against Corruption (IAC) activists and RJD members as protesters tried to submit a memorandum at the RJD office.

In Dhanbad, IAC activists thronged BJP MP PN Singh's residence, demanding his support for their stir.

Mumbai saw demonstrations outside houses of Congress MPs Sanjay Nirupam and Priya Dutt. Protesters gathered outside the Guwahati residence of BJP MP Bijoya Chakravorty.

Sanyukta, a young girl, who was protesting outside finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's house, alleged they were "ill-treated" even after making it clear that they were merely carrying flowers and intended no harm.