India has taken exception to today’s comments from the US State Department’s spokesman whereby he advised the former to exercise restraint in dealing with the sit-in protest by anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare on August 16.
Describing the comment as “needless”, the Indian External Affairs Ministry’s spokesman told press persons that the countrymen had all the rights to peaceful protests anywhere in the country.
“We have seen the needless comments by the US State Department Spokesperson on handling of peaceful protests in India. Freedoms of speech and expression, as well as, of peaceful assembly, are enshrined in the Constitution of India and exercised by citizens of this country of 1.2 billion people,” said the spokesman in response to a question.
Earlier during the day, US State Department spokesperson had said: “As you know, we support the right of peaceful, non-violent protest around the world. That said, India is a democracy, and we count on India to exercise appropriate democratic restraint in the way it deals with peaceful protest.”
Anna Hazare is scheduled to begin his indefinite hunger strike in New Delhi on August 16, demanding setting up of Lokpal (Ombudsman) who would look into corruption cases against anyone, including the Prime Minister, senior judges and all levels of bureaucrats.
The Indian Government had recently introduced an Ombudsman Bill in the Parliament, but exempted senior judges and the Prime Minister.