Sunday, June 26, 2011

I didn't want to die at hands of cops: Baba Ramdev

NEW DELHI: In sharp contrast to his visit earlier this month when four Union ministers had waited on him, yoga guru Baba Ramdev arrived in the capital on Sunday and was greeted by a huge contingent of police and a handful of followers. 

Ramdev visited Rajbala, the woman injured during the June 4 police crackdown on his fast against corruption. The action still played on his mind as an agitated Baba addressed a press conference, accusing the Delhi Police of conspiring to kill him and molesting his women followers. 

He said he was determined as ever to continue the "struggle" against corruption — alongside anyone from "any party, any religion, any long as it kills the rat". 

During the course of the emotional interaction, the Baba recounted the night of June 4 when he had "waited to be arrested but no one came". "Woh logon ko hatana aur mujhe mitana chahta thhe (The police wanted to evacuate people and eliminate me)," he said, alleging that the dais was deliberately set on fire. 

Ramdev was at pains to explain why he escaped that night dressed as a woman. "I didn't want to die the death of a wolf, I didn't want to die the death of an animal, I didn't want to die at the hands of the police which has become the puppet of the government. So I decided to escape. I was arrested outside. If they had caught me inside, I would not have been seen again," he said. 

He termed the Ramlila Maidan incident as "murder of democracy", adding that he had come toDelhi on the 36th anniversary of the Emergency, and the situation now was again akin to those dark days. 

Asked if his return to Delhi was an indication that he would join the fast by Anna Hazare, the Baba was noncommittal. " Abhi 16 tareeq mein kaafi samay hai (There's still a lot of time before August 16)," Ramdev replied. Pressed on the issue, he said, "The issue is not Hazare or Ramdev, but corruption." 

Accusing the government of not wanting to create a strong Lokpal, Ramdev was scathing about the government's unwillingness to fight corruption. " Sarkar pehle bhrashtachari thhi, abh woh atyachari bhi ho gayi (Earlier, the government was corrupt, now it is cruel as well)," he said. 

Answering talk of him having amassed wealth illegally, the yoga preacher said the government was free to use all its might to investigate if he had any black money. "If you find anything from Re 1 to one lakh crore, seize it and declare it as national asset." 

Deriding the government's stand of putting the PM and MPs out of the Lakpal's ambit, the Baba said, "The government feels it's more important to bring NGOs and trusts within the bill's purview." Denying the support of right-wing parties, Ramdev claimed he was not a mask for anyone. He claimed he had broken his fast on the advice of spiritual leaders Morari Bapu and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who told him that the condition of a large number of women and children who were fasting with him, had worsened. 

The Baba was in full flow, accusing the Congress of being unwilling to be transparent. He claimed he had proof that donations given to the Rajiv Gandhi Trust had not been audited, in contrast to the accounting of funds that had been put up on the Patanjali Ashram website. 

He also announced that a "shivir" on free housing scheme would be started from July 1 at Haridwar, followed by a programme on August 4 to empower 624 villages with indigenous products, making them ideal swadeshi villages.

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