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NAC slams arrest

New Delhi, Aug. 16: Two key members of the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council today condemned Anna Hazare’s arrest in a signed statement that said it was the “democratic right of every person to protest peacefully”.

Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander signed the statement before Delhi police issued Hazare’s release orders.

The statement, issued by the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information of which Roy and Mander are also a part, said it was the government’s “responsibility” to ensure that public protests did not inconvenience or endanger others.

The signatories said the government could not abrogate this responsibility by severely constraining public protests. “How can Delhi be the capital of the largest democracy in the world and yet not allow the people… to exercise their basic democratic rights?” they asked.

They clarified that though they did not agree with many of Hazare’s demands, they supported his “democratic right to publicly make those demands”. The council — that was scheduled to meet on August 26 — is unlikely to do so in the absence of Sonia, who is recuperating from surgery.

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