Yoga guru's arrest is questioned by court

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The Independent Online

India's Supreme Court has called on the government to justify why it sent police to end a peaceful anti-corruption protest by a popular yoga guru and thousands of his followers, spelling more trouble for the embattled Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

Around 600 police broke up a mass hunger strike led by Swami Ramdev in Delhi with batons and tear gas early on Sunday, detaining the guru, who is a television star, and putting him on an aircraft to his home state. Dozens of followers and police were injured.

The court's intervention yesterday followed widespread criticism of the raid as another sign that the government and its 78-year-old Prime Minister are out of touch with millions of corruption-weary Indians.

A man tried to throw a shoe at the general secretary of the ruling Congress party, Janardhan Dwivedi, as he criticised the guru during a news conference. The man was beaten up by onlookers and the incident highlighted how polarised India has become with the controversial raid.

Tapping into increasing anger about corruption, Swami Ramdev has called on the government to pursue billions of dollars in illegal funds abroad, and introduce tough anti-corruption legislation.

Swami Ramdev pledged to fast until his demands were met, adding to a series of planned protests announced by opposition parties and civil society groups.