New Delhi/Haridwar, Jun 5 : The dramatic eviction of Baba Ramdev in the middle of night in a swoop by Delhi police today set off a slugfest between the UPA and the Sangh Parivar and the yoga guru who announced that he would continue his agitation against black money.
The first political fallout of the police action was the decision of civil society activists led by Anna Hazare to boycott tomorrow's meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee on Lokpal and the threat to resume the agitation in Jantar Mantar.
The police action of firing teargas shells and lathicharge on people in the Ramlila Maidan who were woken up in their sleep in the dead of the night drew sharply critical attacks from BJP and chief ministers Mayawati, Nitish Kumar, Prakash Singh Badal and Naveen Patnaik and former CMs Mulayam Singh Yadav and Chandrababu Naidu.
But the government and the Congress came out in strong defence of the decision to evict the 46-year-old Ramdev and legions of his followers, accusing him of going back on his word of withdrawing his fast after reaching an understanding on the issue of measures to bring back black money stashed abroad.
The political war erupted hours after Ramdev, who jumped from a three-metre-high podium and tried to escape disguised as a woman, was served with an externment order that barred him entry into the capital for a fortnight.
He was bundled into a police van before dawn and flown to Haridwar in a small plane. The police action came after the government and Ramdev traded barbs accusing each other of betrayal.
With the government decision drawing flak, Congress leadership met at the Prime Minister's residence which was attended by Sonia Gandhi and senior cabinet ministers.
The top BJP leadership met in the capital and condemned the police action, saying it reminded the days of Emergency.
A heavy contingent of Delhi police personnel including the Rapid Action Force descended on the fast site a little after 1 AM and met with resistance from the followers of Ramdev who had just completed a day's fast demanding measures to repatriate black money stashed abroad.
The yoga guru, who was met by a high-power delegation of ministers led by Pranab Mukherjee on June one at the Delhi airport, vowed in Haridwar to continue his fast-unto-death and threatened to re-enter the capital in the night.
Ramdev accused the police of indulging in “brutalities” against his peaceful followers, especially women and children, and called it a “big blot” on the government.
Hazare announced that the civil activists would hold a fast at Jantar Mantar on June 8.
Government, which held talks with Ramdev until yesterday evening, ordered a police swoop at the Ramlila Maidan rocking the calm when he was asleep on the stage and thousands of his followers on the ground.
The fast site resembled a war zone for over three hours with police forcibly evicting thousands of his followers who had ended a day's fast alongwith Ramdev.
62 people including 23 policemen were injured in the action. Ramdev claimed a Gurgaon residence has been paralysed in the police attack, a woman from Andhra Pradesh suffered leg fractures and at least two others had head injuries.
The midnight action triggered a war of words between the government and the Sangh Parivar which threw its full weight behind the yoga guru. the government, which cited intelligence inputs of terror threat to Ramdev, ruled out further talks with him saying he was getting “unreasonable”. PTI