New Delhi: Several BJP leaders led by party president Nitin Gadkari and Parliamentary Party Chairman LK Advani launched a nation-wide 24-hour-long agitation against police crackdown on Ramdev supporters and corruption even as it asked the government to bring back black money parked abroad.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday held Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi responsible for ordering police action against Ramdev’s protest and announced a 24-hour stir across the country to protest it.
"The incident that took place on Saturday midnight at the Ramlila ground is one that has blemished democracy. Those people were protesting against corruption and black money through democratic means. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi ordered the atrocities on these people," BJP president Nitin Gadkari said here.
The Opposition party protested the use of tear gas and lathicharge on women and children who were agitating at the Ramlila Ground along with Baba Ramdev.
"We strongly condemn this incident which happened at the behest of the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi. Protesting in a democratic manner is our Constitutional right", Gadkari said.
He said "June always reminds us of the Emergency. In 1975, after the Allahabad high court judgement, Emergency was imposed. The same is being done now. Women and children were attacked. They were lathicharged and tear gas was used. This reminds us of the Emergency days. We strongly condemn it," he added.
BJP also announced its leaders will hold 'satyagraha' (peaceful protest) across the country for the next 24 hours.
Sensing a political opportunity in the developments in Delhi, BJP cut short its meeting of office-bearers being held here on Sunday and asked its party cadre across the country to join the protest.
Senior BJP leaders will sit on a protest at the Rajghat in Delhi from Sunday evening.
"The Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi should apologise to the nation. The government has lost its right to rule," Gadkari said.
Asked about the allegations of financial wrongdoing against Ramdev, Gadkari said these are charges being spread by Congress. "Is this the way we treat our women and children. Is this the treatment that should be given to sadhus?" Gadkari asked.
It was Ravanlila at Ramlila Ground: Modi
Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister on Sunday dubbed the police action as "Ravanlila in Ramlila Ground".
Terming the incident as the "worst" day in the history of India, Modi said, "The PM had said during the elections that he would bring back black money stashed in Swiss banks within 100 days of coming into power. But today, it is two years and nothing has happened".
Modi, who was inaugurating a new dental college in Ahmedabad, said "Congress will have to answer 120 crore people of India about the use of violence on innocent people".
“I would like to tell Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that you cannot escape by saying that you did not know. You are directly responsible for what has happened at the Ramlila ground in Delhi," Modi said.
"The lathi-charge on innocent people has been at your (Manmohan Singh) behest on behalf of the Delhi sultanate and not by the Sheila Dixit Government," Modi said.
The police first attacked people in their sleep and then took away Baba Ramdev and did not disclose where he has been taken, Modi said adding "even the US after killing (Osama Bin) Laden had revealed to the world what they had done in two hours."
"The Delhi sultanate is bound on suppressing the voice against corruption," he added.
Modi said the government's action against Baba Ramdev reminded him of the days of the Emergency, which too coincidently was in the month of June in 1975.
RSS condemns Ramdev’s detention
Meanwhile, condemning the midnight drama on Baba Ramdev and his followers, the RSS said it was a crude attempt by the government to protect the corrupt.
RSS spokesman Ram Madhav wondered whether it was democracy and rule of law in India or it is a police state where action is taken on peaceful protesters at mid night without notice.
He said the police action only showed the government was going out of the way to protect those who break laws and attack those who raise issues.
It is violation of fundamental rights: Justice Hegde
Meanwhile, terming police action against Baba Ramdev and his supporters as ‘violation of fundamental rights’, member of Lokpal Bill drafting committee Justice Santosh Hegde in Bangalore on Sunday said it "brought back memories" of the Emergency.
"Everyone who was peacefully sleeping there was beaten up and thrown out.Quite an amount of brutality could be seen there. I am very very sad and it brings back the memories of June 25-26, 1975," the Karnataka Lokayukta said.
"This is violation of the fundamental rights of citizens and also a violation of the human rights of the people who were present there. It is the fundamental right of the citizens to gather peacefully to demonstrate and till Saturday nothing untoward had happened which gave room for any suspicion that there may be a law and order problem," Justice Hegde, a former judge of the Supreme Court, said.
He said that permission had been given to Ramdev to use the Ramlila ground "may be for yoga but the government of the day knew that it was not yoga that was going on there."
He said the demonstration was "not physical, it was purely vocal...Till 11 pm, everything was ok for the government and suddenly at 12, Baba Ramdev was picked up."
Kiran Bedi, Agnivesh criticise police action
Voicing the same tone as RSS, civil society activists Shanti Bhushan and Swami Agnivesh on Sunday criticised the police action to end the hunger strike of Baba Ramdev with former Law Minister calling it an Emergency-like situation and demanding resignation of the Prime Minister.
However, Swami Agnivesh was equally critical of Ramdev saying he should have called off the fast once the government gave him assurances on his demands. But instead he instigated his supporters to continue the agitation with the result innocent men and women were attacked.
Comparing the government's action to that of Emergency in 1975, Bhushan said it shows to what extent the government can go to protect black money offenders.
Agnivesh criticised the police action saying this kind of brutal lathicharge and tear gas shelling on sleeping followers was condemnable.
"But not calling off the agitation and continuing with some provocative speeches were not helpful," Agnivesh said, adding the whole thing was based on some fishy deal.
Another activist and Anna Hazare camp follower, Arvind Kejriwal said the action shows this government is drunk with power and the whole country will agitate against this.
He said they would like the Prime Minister to explain as to what was the provocation for such a brutal action. Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi termed the police action as "absolutely unfair."
"I don't think this is the way in which we should have dealt with the people sleeping there (at the maidan) at midnight," she said.
Bedi said Ramdev's movement against corruption and black money concerns "everyone in the country and lathicharging sleeping people is absolutely unethical. The government seems to have run out of patience. At least, they should have waited till Sunday morning and listened to what Baba had to say. Baba was not forcing people to become violent," she said.
Another social activist Medha Patkar described the police action as "inhuman" and "brutal".
"It only gives an indication of how the government does not know how to handle a non-violent agitation. By this, the government has indicated that it is not serious about dealing with corruption," she said.