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Police break up Indian yoga guru's hunger strike

KATY DAIGLE AP 06/06/2011 21:28
Police break up Indian yoga guru's hunger strike - Asia - India

A television star and yoga guru leading tens of thousands of people protesting Indian corruption said he would resume a hunger strike Monday in a northern Hindu pilgrimage city after police ousted him from the capital.

Baba Ramdev, along with tens of thousands of supporters, began fasting Saturday in a massive tent camp in New Delhi, despite reaching an 11th-hour agreement with the government on his demands to battle graft.

Police swooped down on the protest camp early Sunday, using tear gas to break it up and triggering a stampede and clashes with rock-throwing protesters that left dozens injured on both sides. Police said they were forced by safety concerns to take action after more than 40,000 people showed up for the event, which was cleared for only 5,000.

Ramdev evaded police for nearly two hours by dressing in women's clothing, and he asked women supporters to form a protective ring around him while he refused police orders to leave the area, police said. He was briefly detained before flying to the northern state of Uttarakhand, where his sprawling ashram, or spiritual headquarters, is located. He had tried to go to the Delhi suburb of Noida to resume the fast there but was barred by authorities.

Ramdev called the crackdown a "blot on democracy and a conspiracy to kill me" and vowed to continue his hunger strike from Haridwar on the Ganges river. The main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, condemned the police raid and said the government should resign.