Indian yoga guru calls off anti-graft fast


An Indian yoga guru on hunger strike for the last eight days in protest at government corruption said Sunday he has called off his fast.
But Swami Ramdev said his fight against graft would continue as the high-profile campaign against so-called “black money” — cash from bribes or other illegal transactions held in overseas accounts — had been successful.
The guru’s closest aide, Acharya Balakrishna, read a statement on behalf of the bearded, saffron-robed Ramdev in which he said: “I am breaking my fast and all people who are also fasting should also call off their fast.
“Our unrest against corruption shall continue.”
Ramdev, a popular television yoga guru who is also known as Baba Ramdev, began his fast on June 4 in New Delhi.
He and thousands of followers were evicted from the national capital in a police crackdown later that day but he continued his protest at his ashram, or religious retreat, near the Hindu holy city of Haridwar.
He has been under observation at the Himalayan Institute of Medical Science hospital in the northern town of Dehradun since Friday after his condition deteriorated mid-week.
The hospital’s director, Vijay Dhasmana, confirmed to AFP that Ramdev had ended his fast and said he would be discharged soon.
Doctors treating him described his condition as stable, although one neurologist said he was “facing problems in speaking”.
Ramdev’s high-profile campaign has piled pressure on India’s scandal-tainted government.
His protest has raised political temperatures in India, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh facing criticism over how the guru was handled by police when he was ejected from Delhi.
Corruption has crept up the agenda in fast-developing India after a string of scandals, notably a telecom licence scam that is thought to have cost the country up to $39 billion and had seen a former minister arrested.
Another activist, Anna Hazare, in April successfully forced the government to draft a new anti-corruption law after holding a 98-hour hunger strike in New Delhi.
Subramanian Swamy, president of the opposition Janata Dal (People’s Party), said Ramdev had made his point, despite ending his fast.
“Swami Ramdev has achieved his objective and now we welcome this step,” the politician told reporters in Dehradun after the guru sipped juice in the presence of Hindu religious leaders in the hospital.
“But his campaign will continue and all those who have stashed ‘black money’ in secret bank accounts abroad are now rattled,” he added.


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