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Anna demands firm measures to protect whistleblowers

Last updated on: March 25, 2012 20:08 IST

Team Anna demands firm measures to protect whistleblowers

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Priyanka in New Delhi

A strong Lokpal Bill should include steps to protect the lives of those fighting corruption, says Team Anna. Priyanka reports

Social activist Anna Hazare's one-day token fast at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Sunday was strongly supported by people from all walks of life. About 5000 or so descended on to the centrally located venue, held tricolor flags and shouted slogans, reinforcing Team Anna's agitation as the most popular and populist movement in recent times.

Team Anna had clarified beforehand that Sunday's protest was about demanding strong measures to protect those who fight corruption. Anna Hazare, and other team members, Shanti Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia shared the stage with a few family members of people who had died while fighting corruption cases against the government.

While Team Anna had earlier agreed to the making of a Whistleblower's Bill as a separate entity from the Lokpal Bill, it said on Sunday that strong measures to protect the life of those fighting corruption should be a part of a strong Lokpal Bill.

The team members targeted the Bahujan Samaj party led former government in Uttar Pradesh, and cited the death of Chief Medical Officer VP Singh, who died in April 2011. His brother I P Singh, who was called on to the address the audience said, "My brother was a very bright student and had decided to become a doctor very early in life. He was also very honest and upright."

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Image: Team Anna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi
Photographs: India Against Corruption

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"The government threatened us and even offered Rs 10 lakh to get away from the scam," he said about National Rural Health Mission scam in the state, and said his brother CMO VP Singh was killed because he didn't give in to the government. "Till date, no major arrests have been made in the case, and we are still waiting for justice," he said.

Singh also pointed that too many young lives were at risk because of the growing activities of mafia in different states. He said, "There is no specific law to deal with mafia. And I urge team Anna to describe what it entails and make laws to deal with it in the Lokpal Bill."

Social Welfare Officer Rinku Singh Rahi too spoke about his confrontations with the mafia in UP, and said, "Despite being an officer, I am not given information about my own department, and have been threatened many times."

Rinku Singh Rahi was shot at six times in 2009 while he was posted in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. He had made corruption charges against his own department and stated social welfare department of Mujaffarnagar district had maintained no records for five years of how funds were being spent.

He claims he has still not been given answers and on Sunday announced that he too would be sitting on a fast in Lucknow from Monday onwards.

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Image: Anna Hazare supporters at Jantar Mantar
Photographs: India Against Corruption

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The son of Mahendra Sharma, an accountant in a district hospital in UP, also spoke to the audience and said that his father was a targeted and killed because he was honest and didn't want to be a part of the NRHM scam. He waved the post mortem report of his father and said, "The report clearly states that there are six injury marks on my father's body. Where did they come from," he asked.

The state government had said that the death of Mahendra Sharma was a case of suicide. 

Significantly, Team Anna seems to have consciously moved away from its anti-Congress party stand, and on Sunday bashed all major political parties for not being able to protest honest citizens who had been fighting corruption cases.

The team members attacked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and cited the murders of RTI activists Nadeem Ahmed Sayed and Amit Jethwa's in the state.

An eyewitness of the massacre at Naroda Paitya during the 2002 riots in Gujarat, and also a social activist, Nadeem Ahmed Sayed was stabbed to death in November 2011. A known RTI activist Amit Jethwa was killed in 2010 for exposing the mining mafia in the state.


Image: Anna Hazare speaks to a gathering at Jantar Mantar during his one-day fast
Photographs: India Against Corruption

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