Hazare starts all-India tour from Amritsar

Amritsar, March 31 (IANS) Warning that India was headed to “disaster”, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare Sunday began his year-long, all-India campaign from Amritsar’s historic Jallianwala Bagh ground.

The tour is part of Hazare’s efforts to press for a strong Lokpal bill as well as electoral reforms among other things.

The “Janatantra Yatra” will move through Punjab for five days during which time Hazare will address eight rallies.

“The country is headed towards disaster. We want to bring about changes,” the 75-year-old told supporters as he embarked on the journey.

Hazare and his supporters earlier prayed at the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, and the nearby Durgiana Mandir before setting out from the Jallianwala Bagh.

Hundreds of Indians, including women and children, were massacred at the ground April 13, 1919 by British forces.

Colonial-era records put the deaths at around 400 while some claimed over 1,000 people were killed.

After Punjab, Hazare will enter Haryana and then move on to Uttarakhand.

After a short break, the second leg of the tour will cover Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.

The tour comes two years after Hazare went on a hunger strike against corruption in New Delhi in April 2011 followed by a mass protest in August that year that drew hundreds of thousands of people.
Another hunger strike took place in Mumbai in December.

During the current tour, Hazare will also work for forming a nationwide organisation of individuals, social groups and NGOs fighting corruption at the grassroots level, his aides said.