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Protests against corruption, memorandum given to president

A group of social activists and religious leaders submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil today demanding a strong anti-corruption law to deal with the menace.

The memorandum was submitted at the end of a day-long protests against graft at Ramlila Maidan. The protesters also marched in a procession to Jantar Mantar.

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Swami Agnivesh, Kiran Bedi, eminent advocate Ram Jethmalani and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal were among others who participated in the protests. They demanded that government take effective steps to bring back money stashed by Indian nationals in banks abroad.

The memorandum, under the aegis of the Bharat Swabhiman Trust, was signed among others by activist Anna Hazare, Jethmalani and former BJP leader Govindacharya. It had 30 lakh signatories, a Trust representative said.

Addressing the rally, Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, a former IT Commissioner, alleged that two Congress leaders had links with Hasan Ali Khan, the Pune-based stud farm owner, who allegedly stashed away huge sums in foreign banks.

Baba Ramdev alleged that Indian nationals had around Rs400 lakh crore in black money, out of which Rs300 lakh crore is stashed in banks abroad.

Swami Agnivesh asked why the government was allowing a particular international bank in which alleged black money has been deposited to open its branches in the country.

Hazare said a strong Lokpal Act would act as a deterrent to corruption.

Hazare yesterday had threatened to go on an indefinite fast from April 5 if the prime minister does not initiate action by March end for coming out with a bill to give Lokpal more teeth.

He demanded that the government immediately set up a committee with at least half of its members being from the civil society to formulate a plan to strengthen the institution of Lokpal.

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