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In PHOTOS: Hazare's army hits the streets again

Last updated on: May 1, 2011 20:28 IST

Anna Hazare's army hits the streets again

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On the eve of the second meeting of the joint Lokpal Bill drafting committee, social activist Anna Hazare's supporters held a rally across India on Sunday demanding early implementation of a strong Ombudsmen legislation.

Scores of people marched from Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, where Hazare had observed his hunger strike on the Lokpal Bill issue, to India Gate.

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Photographs: Courtesy India Against Corruption
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"We've had enough of dilly-dallying. When one controversy gets over, another one begins. These are tactics by people with vested interests to prevent the implementation of a strong bill," said 19-year-old Amita Peter, a student of Delhi University.

Placards carrying anti-corruption slogans, people wearing bandanas pledging support to the cause, flyers urging people to join the "mass movement"-the rally was reminiscent of Hazare's protest that caught the imagination of the entire nation a few weeks back, though on a smaller scale.



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"This rally is much smaller than the protest Annaji held. We are holding this just to remind people that the cause is still not lost. Out fight against corruption is still on. Civil society is still backing the proposed law," said 24-year-old Banjot Kaur, a journalist.

The Joint Drafting Committee, comprising five Union ministers and as many representatives of civil society, will hold its second meeting on Monday to discuss the latest version of the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by Hazare's team.



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Former Indian marathon runner Sunita Godara joined the rally with her team of athletes while veteran theatre personality Arvind Gaur's group Asmita also performed their play 'Bhrashtachar' at India Gate.

The protesters carried placards and banners that read that the Prime Minister and higher judiciary should come under the purview of the Lokpal Bill.

They also demanded that public grievances should be addressed by the proposed bill. Some banners also read that all meetings of the Joint Committee should be video-graphed.



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Prominent organisations which participated in the rally included Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, All India Bank Employees Association, Lucknow and Delhi chapters of the IIM Alumni Association, All India Blind Association and Common Cause.

The rally simultaneously took place in more than 20 cities in India including Mumbai, Pune, Lucknow, Kanpur, Indore, Silchar, Jaipur, Moradabad, Raipur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Chandigarh, Hojai (Assam), Kanyakumari, Ajmer, Thiruivananthapuram and Vishakapatnam.



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Ahead of the meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will hold a strategy session with government representatives to firm up Centre's stand on the latest draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill which, among other things, envisages a provision empowering the office of the Lokpal to intercept telephone conversations.



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Top officials of the Law Ministry, who have gone through the Jan Lokpal Bill, will make a presentation on the salient features of the Jan Lokpal Bill before the Union Ministers.

The second meeting comes against the backdrop of differences on the inclusion of judiciary in the anti-graft legislation.



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At a round-table organised recently, two former Chief Justices of India -- J S Verma and  M N Venkatachalaiah -- had opposed inclusion of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts in the proposed legislation.

The latest version has a new clause, Clause 13-C, which gives wide powers to "an appropriate bench of the Lokpal" to "approve interception and monitoring of messages or data or voice transmitted through telephones, internet or any other medium as covered under the India Telegraph Act, read with Information and Technology Act 2000."



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At present, the powers to intercept telephonic communications is vested with the Home Ministry.

Another new provision in this draft is for setting up of a separate "prosecution wing" for the office of Lokpal, which is already envisaged to have powers to investigate.

The draft was circulated to government representatives during the Committee's fist meeting on April 16.



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