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NRIs take to the streets to support Anna Hazare

August 16, 2011 11:51 IST

The San Francisco Bay Area unit of India Against Corruption on Monday slammed the arrest of activist Anna Hazare.

"We strongly condemn the unconstitutional arrest of Anna Hazare and his team in India today," said San Francisco Bay Area chapter coordinator Pramod Mahadevan.

He told, "We strongly support the India Against Corruption movement and Anna Hazare's fast demanding the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by the citizen's committee".

He added that through the movement, the group is trying to express its frustration at the rampant corruption that pervades all levels of the government to the point where citizens of India treats scams and paying a bribe as part of daily life. They are unable to seek any recourse as the entire system is tuned to support corruption.

"We are appalled by the introduction of the government's version of the Lokpal Bill which does little, if anything, to curb corruption and does not take a comprehensive look at all the areas that need to be addressed," he said.

Mahadevan added, "We are planning a protest event in front of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco to condemn this arrest and submit a petition demanding their release."

Meanwhile, nearly 150 members of the Indian American community gathered at the Civic Centre Plaza in Los Angeles to show their support to Anna Hazare on the eve of Independence Day.

They expressed their support for Hazare and the millions of Indians who are demanding the Jan Lokpal Bill to end corruption in India.

"Though we are NRIs, we are concerned for the growing corruption in the country and its effect on the common man," said Sasidhar Kalagara.

The event was organised by People for Loksatta and India Against Corruption's Los Angeles unit.

"It even affects us when we visit the country. Right from the airport, everyone starts asking for bribes," said Kalagara.

He added, "Lots of NRIs have investments in the country and it is very hard for them when they want to buy properties or make other investments in the country (because of the corruption)".

The rally was attended by people from various cities including Los Angeles, San Diego and Boston. The slogans chanted by Hazare's supports were, 'We support Anna Hazare', 'We want Jan Lokpal', 'Vande Mataram' and 'Jai Hind'.

At the rally, NRIs took a pledge of not giving in to corrupt official's demand for a bribe at Indian airports.

The flag hoisting ceremony was followed by a car rally in support of Anna Hazare's fast.

Sindhu Halvi, a member of India Against Corruption, stated that every Indian should join the movement against corruption and support activists like Anna Hazare, Jayaprakash Narayan and Kiran Bedi.

Jayaprakash Narayan, president of Lok Satta party, has been fighting corruption for 15 years. He is currently on a week-long bus tour in support of a strong Lokpal Bill.

Jawahar Kambhampati, vice president of People for Loksatta, demanded a three-tier independent anti-corruption institution to address the issue at grassroots level. He said a strong Lokpal at the Centre, a Lokayukta at the state level and an ombudsman at the district level is required.

Satish Kalari, one of the volunteers, pointed out that the Lokpal Bill sought by the Indian government does not bring any change in the current system.

India Against Corruption is supported by various units across the United States which support the movement.

Image: A rally in support of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement at Los Angeles

Ritu Jha