x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Indian anti-corruption activists detained over coal protest

Scores of anti-corruption activists who tried to march to the homes of top political leaders to protest a scandal over the government's sale of coal fields have been arrested.

Police use water canons to disperse supporters of Indian social activist Anna Hazare during a protest against corruption near the New Delhi residence of India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Police use water canons to disperse supporters of Indian social activist Anna Hazare during a protest against corruption near the New Delhi residence of India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

NEW DELHI // Indian police detained scores of anti-corruption activists who tried to march yesterday to the homes of top political leaders to protest a scandal over the government's sale of coal fields without competitive bidding.

Hundreds of activists lay down on the road outside the homes of the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and other leaders in central New Delhi as police held them back with security barricades. They later broke through police cordons at many places, and police responded by firing tear gas and water cannons.

Officers dragged protesters to buses parked near the prime minister's house and took them to nearby police stations.

Police also used bamboo batons to beat back protesters who had climbed over a barricade near the prime minister's office complex.

Roads in the heart of the capital were closed to traffic.

Police said the detained activists would be held for a few hours and then released.

The protesters, members of India Against Corruption, a group led by prominent anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, have said they would blockade the homes of leaders of both the ruling Congress party and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party because they blame both parties for India's endemic corruption.

"Our protest today was to tell the country how the Congress and the BJP are hand-in-glove in looting the country," said protest leader Arvind Kejriwal.

Mr Kejriwal was detained for about an hour and then released by police.

He returned to address protesters who had gathered outside the homes of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and the BJP president, Nitin Gadkari.