x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Indian yoga guru threatens a 'people's revolt'

Baba Ramdev threatens to expand his anti-graft protest nationwide if the government doesn't act decisively to reclaim billions of dollars of ill-gotten money that Indians have allegedly stashed abroad.

NEW DELHI // A popular Indian yoga guru fasted for a fourth day yesterday and threatened to expand his anti-graft protest nationwide if the government doesn't act decisively to reclaim billions of dollars of ill-gotten money that Indians have allegedly have stashed abroad.

Baba Ramdev told thousands of cheering supporters at a sprawling fairground in the capital that he would announce an action plan today to "intensify the protest across the country in the form of a people's revolt".

He asked his supporters to be ready to accept arrest, but urged them to shun violence. "I will be the first person to go to jail and you follow me," he said.

Mr Ramdev and his supporters said they had not eaten for three days to pressure the government into accepting their demands.

These include the creation of a powerful ombudsman to check government officials, an independent central bureau of investigation, and actions to prevent tax evasion and the illegal stashing of money in overseas banks.

On Thursday, the government said an ombudsman bill would be submitted to parliament next month. The finance ministry is tightening laws to curb illegal transfers of money abroad.

Mr Ramdev started his protest days after the anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare halted a hunger strike that failed to gain widespread support. Crowds have also dwindled at the site of Mr Ramdev's fast.