x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Envoy advises Indians against Hazare protests

A new group of Indian expatriates will travel to New Delhi to support the veteran activist Anna Hazare's hunger strike against government corruption.

DUBAI // Two more men have been detained for organising a march in Dubai in support of the Indian activist Anna Hazare without permission.

A bail application lodged on behalf of three men already in custody over the march on Saturday was refused yesterday, according to prosecution sources.

More than 150 men, women and children took part in the late-evening three-kilometre walk at Al Mamzar beach carrying Indian flags and banners and wearing badges.

The Indian consulate cautioned its nationals yesterday against "public reactions to issues in India", and urged them to submit signed petitions instead.

"Sometimes, an emotive reaction encourages behaviour that falls foul of local laws and sensitivities," Sanjay Verma, the Indian consul general, wrote on the consulate's newly launched Facebook page.

"I do understand that many Indians here feel strongly about the protests in India. A simpler way of conveying concerns is by petitions."

A petition on the protests signed by 170 people and submitted to the consulate has been forwarded to the Indian prime minister's office.

Mr Hazare, whose methods have inspired comparisons with India's greatest leader, Mohandas Gandhi, is on an indefinite fast that began on August 16.

He is demanding that the Indian government adopt legislation that would make the judiciary and prime minister’s office subject to oversight by a new anti-corruption ombudsman.

On the Indian consulate’s Facebook page, Mr Verma wrote: “The world is shrinking. Happenings in India, whether it is the Cricket World Cup victory, natural calamities or movements, affect many of us with an intensity as if we were back home. The reaction to some developments in India makes many of us forget that we are in a foreign land.”

He said if people wanted to react publicly to issues back home, it should be done after “acknowledging local laws and other requirements”.

The consulate is in touch with the families of the arrested men. “The local law and legal process will determine the fate of those arrested,” Mr Verma said.

A second group of Indian expatriates will travel to New Delhi next week to join Mr Hazare’s protest. KK Sarachandra Bose, a lawyer in Dubai, said the contingent of non-resident Indians would be a part of “awakening the soul of India” with Mr Hazare.

“It is now or never. History will question us about our contribution to the second freedom struggle,” Mr Bose said. He urged more Indian nationals to join in what he described as an historic moment.

“We are doing this in relay. A group of ours will always be there,” said Mr Bose, who was detained by Delhi police in a stadium for a day last week with another expatriate and thousands of Indian residents.

He returned last week, and is expected to leave again with the group on Monday.

The first group of about 12 UAE expatriates arrived in India on August 16. Some joined the hunger strike to express their solidarity with the 73-year-old activist.

Mr Hazare vowed yesterday to continue his hunger strike, as the Indian government called an emergency all-party meeting and resolved to consider his anti-corruption bill. Mr Bose said he might cancel the visit by Indian nationals from the UAE if a compromise were reached and Mr Hazare ended his hunger strike.

pkannan@thenational.ae
salamir@thenational.ae