New Delhi/Hardwar: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday said there was "no
alternative" to the "unfortunate" crackdown on Baba Ramdev as
anger against the government grew amid a Supreme Court notice, a
day after police forcibly removed the yoga guru from an anti-graft
Manmohan Singh broke the silence over the episode at a function
here and told reporters that "it is unfortunate that operation had
to be conducted but quite honestly, there was no alternative."
On the issue of corruption being highlighted by and opposition
parties, Manmohan Singh said the government was "serious and we
are concerned about corruption and blackmoney. There is no doubt.
But there is no magic wand".
His comments at a media award function came as the Supreme Court
issued notice to the government on the forced ouster of the
televangelist yoga icon.
The court issued notice to Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and Delhi
Police Commissioner B.K. Gupta and the Delhi chief secretary
asking them to explain the circumstances that led to the violent
midnight drama at Ramlila Ground in the heart of the capital.
They were asked to reply in two weeks.
Basing themselves on media reports, judges B.S. Chauhan and
Swatantar Kumar took suo motu cognizance of the police action
against Ramdev and his supporters that injured more than 100
people, many seriously.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also issued notice
to the three officials over the issue.
Hundreds of police personnel swooped down on the Ramlila Ground
just after Saturday midnight when most people were sleeping at the
Ramdev agitation. Police used batons, tear gas and water cannons
to clear the crowds, triggering chaos and clashes.
'Women's dress - a survival tactic'
Meanwhile, on the third day of his anti-corruption fast, Ramdev,
fuming over the way police broke up his protest, hardened his
stand against the government and said Manmohan Singh had failed to
do his duty.
Speaking at his ashram in Hardwar, he justified wearing women's
clothes to disguise himself while trying to evade police at
Ramlila Ground. "I preferred to adopt the survival tactics of
warrior king Shivaji and wearing a woman's attire is not a sign of
weakness. A woman gives birth to a man and her status is
superior," he said.
"For the cognizance taken by Supreme Court on its own against this
injustice, we thank (the court) from our hearts," he said. "The
country is grateful."
The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) also welcomed
the Supreme Court's move.
The police action has united the opposition against the
Congress-led government, although ministers and Congress leaders
A delegation of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has launched
an aggressive attack on the government over the Ramdev episode,
met President Pratibha Patil to ask her to convene a special
session of parliament.
"We will expose this government as it is not at all keen to take
any meaningful action against the menace of corruption and black
money," party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The opposition party also attacked Manmohan Singh's statement,
terming it "bizarre".
"Here is a prime minister who is making such a remark to defend
himself. He is guilty of mass torture," party spokesperson Rajiv
Pratap Rudy said.
Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav criticised the
The ruling Congress accused Ramdev of being a mask for the
rightwing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and also took a shot
at the BJP for staging an agitation at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial.
"He (Ramdev) is only a mask," party general secretary Janardan
Dwivedi said at a party press briefing where he was attacked by a
supporter of the guru impersonating as a journalist.
Ramdev supporters also stoned Congress spokesperson Digvijay
Singh's bungalow at Bhopal's Shyamala Hills. The leader had called
the televangelist a "thug".
A court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar also accepted a petition that
accused Digvijay Singh of preaching sedition and hatred.
Protests were also staged in Nepal's capital Monday in support of
Ramdev, who enjoys a wide following there.
The Patanjali Yog Kendra established in Kathmandu by the yoga
teacher took out a silent rally from the Indian embassy to the
foreign ministry office nearby, condemning the police onslaught in