After Raid, Yoga Guru's Protest Stirs a Firestorm

Baba Ramdev

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A sobbing Swami Ramdev vowed Sunday to continue his hunger strike against corruption and blamed the governing Congress Party for a chaotic, early morning raid in which thousands of his followers were dispersed by police officers spraying tear gas.Swami Ramdev, a yoga guru with a large following in India, had organized a mass hunger strike that began Saturday in New Delhi. But less than 14 hours later, amid the tumult of the raid, he was detained by officers and later flown to the state of Uttaranchal, where he was taken to his ashram near the city of Haridwar.Appearing later on national television, he described how he tried in vain to escape the police raid by dressing as a woman and covering his flowing black beard with white cloth."The government wanted to kill me," he said. He added: "My hunger strike is not broken. I will continue. My agitation will continue."The police raid quickly transformed what had been a quirky mixture of yoga sit-in and political protest into a political firestorm. Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, the country's main opposition party, assailed the Congress Party for mishandling the hunger strike and described the police action as "a shameful chapter in the democracy of this country."Nitin Gadkari, president of the BJP, said the party would stage a demonstration. L.K. Advani, another BJP leader, described the police raid as "naked fascism" and called for a special session of Parliament to address governmental corruption."I feel that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the president of the Congress Party owe an apology to the nation," he said.But Congress leaders were hardly apologetic on Sunday and instead accused Swami Ramdev of trying to deliberately stir up trouble as a proxy for the BJP and right-wing Hindu groups. "You cannot allow people like Ramdev to run riot in the capital," said Digvijay Singh, a powerful Congress Party leader who has been outspoken in his criticism of the swami. "He was trying to incite people. Therefore, the action of the police is justified."



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Artist: Baba Ramdev
Video title: After Raid, Yoga Guru's Protest Stirs a Firestorm
Category: News
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