Baba Ramdev detained, asked to leave Delhi

New Delhi:  There was high drama at the Ramlila Ground in New Delhi after a defiant Baba Ramdev refused to call off his fast despite the government's best efforts. The government then hardened its stand and asked the yoga icon to leave Delhi.

Delhi Police served an externment order on Baba Ramdev and Section 144 of the  Indian Penal Code (IPC), which prevents unlawful assembly of five or more persons, was imposed. Police sources say the order was issued after Baba Ramdev used the Ramlila Ground for staging a hunger strike against corruption instead of a yoga camp.

Sources have told NDTV that Baba Ramdev was detained and sent to Haridwar, but Home Secretary GK Pillai says the yoga icon voluntarily left Delhi.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) has reported that Ramdev has sought the intervention of the Chief Justice of India. PTI reports also suggest that at least 30 people were injured in the police action in Ramlila Grounds.

Chaos prevailed at Ramlila Ground at around one in the morning when the police moved in and surrounded the area. The police were there to take Mr Ramdev away from the protest site and leave him outside the city limits of Delhi.

Eyewitness accounts suggest Baba Ramdev was sleeping on the stage when the police reached; they woke him up to tell him that they are here to escort him out of the area. But Baba Ramdev jumped off the stage and went amidst his supporters. When he again reached the dais, cops tried to zero in, and that is when all hell broke loose. Supporters first formed a ring around Baba Ramdev to prevent him from being arrested, and then started throwing stones at the policemen. Some of the protesters were injured in the incident. (Watch: Eyewitness account)

Torn banners, mattresses and broken furniture lay all over the site. Parts of the stage also caught a minor fire that broke out during the melee. The cops fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. And within minutes, Ramlila Ground, the crowded epicenter of Baba Ramdev's protest against corruption where thousands had gathered to fast along with the yoga icon, wore a deserted look.

Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta said Baba Ramdev has not been arrested and he has been taken to a safe location.

Before being forced to leave, Baba Ramdev addressed his supporters urging them to maintain calm and not resort to violence. "I am with my people and will remain here till my last breath," he said.

"The government first tried to put pressure on me. They wanted that the fast be called off. Why? Because they know I am fighting for people and they are with me in my cause," Baba Ramdev said. People across the nation know that no amount of pressure can stop me, he added.

The government has been trying hard to convince Baba Ramdev to give up his fast but the Yoga icon has been adamant.

After several rounds of talks there has been no consensus, the latest being on Saturday when the government alleged that Mr Ramdev had gone back on his word. This led to a bitter blame game with both sides accusing each other of reneging on the agreements reached in discussions over the last two days. (Watch: Ramdev's '5-star satyagraha' has RSS support, says Digvijaya Singh)

The government even sent a letter to Mr Ramdev in the evening assuring him on enacting a law on black money and declaring it as national asset for which a committee would be set up. Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay told reporters that the letter had been sent to the yoga icon and expressed hope that he would call off the hunger strike which began on Saturday morning. The assurance was part of an apparent agreement between Baba Ramdev and the government over calling off the fast. (Watch: Thousands gather at Ramlila Maidan) | (In Pictures: Baba Ramdev's satyagraha)

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