Taking strong exception to comments by the US state department on the handling of peaceful protests, India termed the remarks “needless”.
Though Anna Hazare’s name was not specifically referred to, his proposed protest on August 16 was. “Freedoms of speech and expression, as well as, of peaceful assembly are enshrined in the Constitution...,” Vishnu Prakash, spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, said.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, however, cautioned against reading too much into the statement. “This is a general statement. It should not be misinterpreted as any sort of criticism, much less indictment,” he said.
Replying to a question on the anti-corruption agitation, headed by Anna Hazare, department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, said in Washington , "As you know, we support the right of peaceful, non-violent protest around the world. That said, India is a democracy and we count on India to exercise appropriate democratic restraint in the way it deals with peaceful protest.”
Earlier Home minister P Chidambaram had described Hazare’s “extra-parliamentary protests” beginning August 16 as “unjustified” when a parliamentary panel was already looking into the lokpal bill.”