New Delhi: Anna Hazare and his supporters on Wednesday evening ended their day-long fast to protest police crackdown against yoga guru Ramdev and his followers at Ramlila Maidan here.

Hazare, joined by his associates and a few thousand supporters, went on the hunger strike to protest the police crackdown on Baba Ramdev's supporters during their agitation against corruption here on Saturday night, which he termed as a "blot on humanity" and attempt to "stifle democracy".

He ended the fast at 6 pm.

Taking on the government, Hazare said that his agitation against corruption was the "second freedom struggle" and threatened another hunger strike from August 16 if Lokpal Bill is not passed by then.

He accused the government of putting "hurdles" in the drafting of Lokpal Bill and trying to defame the civil society members of the joint panel, such as Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Santosh Hegde and Arvind Kejriwal through a "discreet" campaign.

'Second freedom struggle'

Earlier, taking on the government, Anna Hazare declared that his agitation against corruption was the "second freedom struggle" and threatened another hunger strike from August 16 if Lokpal Bill is not passed by then.

He accused the government of putting "hurdles" in the drafting of Lokpal Bill and trying to defame the civil society members of the joint panel, such as Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Santosh Hegde and Arvind Kejriwal through a "discreet" campaign.

Hazare, joined by his associates and a few thousand supporters, went on the hunger strike to protest the police crackdown on Baba Ramdev's supporters during their agitation against corruption here on Saturday night, which he termed as a "blot on humanity" and attempt to "stifle democracy".

After paying floral tributes at Mahatma Gandhi's samadhi, he reached the protest site at around 10.20 am to a rousing welcome from supporters who assembled there amid heavy police presence.

"Mahatma Gandhi fought for our freedom but we are yet to achieve real independence. The second struggle of independence has started. We are ready to sacrifice our lives but will not buckle under pressure," Hazare said.

Mounting pressure on the government to quickly enact a law to curb corruption, he said he will launch an indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar here from August 16 if the Lokpal Bill is not passed by then.

Hazare's indefinite fast in April had evoked nationwide support forcing the government to set up a joint committee of civil society members and ministers to draft the bill.

Civil society can only give suggestions

On a day when Anna Hazare received massive support, Congress virtually declared redundancy of the Joint Committee to draft a strong Lokpal bill.

Party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said civil society representatives "could not be the alternate sources" for lawmaking including the key legislation.

"There is a constitutional scheme of things needed to be adhered to including taking the views of the Parliament while deciding on the legislation. Whatever they say could be suggestions for draft but it can't be the legislation. This is not a banana republic. We are working under the constitution of India," she said.

The Congress spokesperson side-stepped questions whether the Prime Minister should be under the proposed Lokpal bill, noting that the Constitution review committee under Justice M M Venkatachaliah had expressed itself against it.

The remarks of Natarajan came a day after Hazare and other representatives of the civil society boycotted a scheduled meeting but made it clear that they would participate in future meetings.

Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee is the Chairman of the Committee and former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan is its co-chairman.

Natarajan also tried to drive a wedge between Hazare and Ramdev, saying the Gandhian appears to be unaware of the call for armed rebellion given by the Yoga Guru.

Natarajan dismissed as "unacceptable" Hazare's statement that what he was fighting the "second freedom struggle".

Agencies