Crowds of thousands back Indian activist Anna Hazare's hunger strike

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The Independent Online

Protests swelled across India yesterday in support of an anti-corruption campaigner who is fasting in jail, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government at a loss over how to end the standoff.

Arun Jaitley, a leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said: "It is a wake-up call for all of us unless we put our house in order. The people of this country are becoming restless."

The slight 74-year-old Anna Hazare fasted as thousands of his followers gathered outside the jail, the latest development in a crisis that saw him arrested on Tuesday, before he could begin a public hunger strike, and then refuse to leave jail after the government ordered his release. At least 15,000 people gathered at one protest site in Delhi alone.

Mr Hazare, who has struck a nerve with millions of Indians by demanding tougher laws against rampant corruption, had insisted that before he leaves jail he wants the right to return to a city park where he had originally planned to publicly fast.