Government please explain eviction of Baba Ramdev from Delhi: Supreme Court

Baba Ramdev

The Indian government has come under serious questioning from the supreme court as it battles a storm of severe criticism to justify its weekend actions when the Indian police raided the camp of Baba Ramdev and its protesters at the Ramlila Maidan where close to a lakh of Baba’s followers gathered to support his anti-corruption campaign. Teargas and lathi charge were wielded on protesters comprising of seniors, women and children at 1.30 am at night on June 4.

The Supreme Court has asked the government to explain its behaviour, piling on the troubles for the Congress-led UPA that has been hobbled by a series of scandals and is increasingly isolated politically under attack from friends and foes alike. The whole political scene of India looks quite chaotic from afar as everyone has lost common sense. One could see on TV an angry reporter brandishing a shoe at the congress Secretary Janardan Dwivedi when he was answering questions from the journalists after a press conference.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh broke his silence to justify the crackdown on protesters led by Baba Ramdev as the government found itself cornered by lame-duck answers lashing back at Baba Ramdev trying to call his stand as Satyagrah and being compared to Gandhiji by media according to Dwivedi.

In his first comments on the police action at Baba Ramdev’s protest congregation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed Baba Ramdev episode as “unfortunate” but justified it saying there was “no alternative”.

Mr Kapil Sibal said in a press conference, after the government ordered to disassemble Baba Ramdev’s peaceful protest by sending in police to scare and scatter away his followers as many got hurt in the scuffle that followed, that the government will go ahead and draft the Lokpal Bill without the civil society members.  Sibal, one of the five ministers on the joint drafting panel, criticised civil society members and said, “The kind of language and discourse that the civil society members, led by Anna Hazare, are indulging in against the government, calling the ministers cheats, liars and tricksters is unacceptable. We reject in strongest possible terms this load of allegations laid by Anna Hazare that the government is telling lies and the ministers are cheats,” Sibal said.

While Sibal addressed Anna as ”˜Anna Hazareji’ in his press conference said that government will go ahead with Lokpal Bill Draft without the civil members by the date of June 30. His comments reflect a strong stand and not a democratic process by a government which claims itself as the largest democracy in the world.

Angered by the police action against  Baba Ramdev and his followers the government’s high handed approach has resulted in Shri Anna Hazare and his committee to boycott their participation in the drafting of the Lokpal Bill as they stayed away from a meeting convened to draft the Lokpal Bill on Monday, June 6.

Avacation bench of the Supreme court comprising Justices BS Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar, acting on the basis of newspaper reports, on June 6 issued notices to the central and Delhi governments and the Delhi Police, asking them to explain within two weeks the “brutality of the State in dealing with innocent citizens”.

“Considering the gravity of the police atrocities and the brutal force that was used by the police to disperse the innocent people who had gathered at Ramlila Maidan in furtherance to the permission granted by the state, is a matter of concern for the court,” the Supreme court bench said.

The Supreme Court has been severely critical of the government in recent months, reprimanding it on several occasions, especially on the issue of corruption and black money. Its latest intervention came as the BJP-led NDA and the yoga guru’s supporters across the country intensified their anti-government campaign. The BJP, which launched a 24-hour ‘satyagraha’ to protest the police action on Baba Ramdev and his followers, urged President Pratibha Patil to direct the government to convene an emergency Parliament session.

“The image of the government is that of the most corrupt government in independent India,” BJP leader LK Advani told reporters. The party’s chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Prime Minister’s statement was “insensitive and condemnable. It does not behove the stature of the Prime Minister.” The BJP has demanded an apology from the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi for the police crackdown at a peaceful protest.

The group of civil society activists raised doubts about the government’s seriousness to eliminate corruption in high places, although the government has vowed to press on and draft a strong Lokpal Bill by June 30 for introduction in the monsoon session of Parliament “whether or not someone” comes for the meetings. The ”˜Someone’ referred is the civic team of Anna without which the democratic process as well as tranparency about the corruption in the government can not be achieved by the drafted Jan Lokpal Bill. After all ‘Jan’ means ‘janta’ or the grass root public which had gathered from all over India at the Ramlila Maidan invited by Baba Ramdev.

The existing law of corruption and anti-corruption units are non-effective, also said Arvind Kejriwal, spokesperson of the civil committee, elucidating how the anti-corruption units of the respective state and machinery of the vigilance department shall be merged in the Lokpal institution. He explained how the CBI had failed to prove corruption cases,   “According to data available to us, ratio of conviction in the corruption cases is only 4% out of 100 cases. We expect that the Lokpal bill will bring that ratio up to 50 to 60%.”

Baba Ramdev’s demands include questions on Rs 22.5 lakh crore Indian black money stashed in the Swiss bank.


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