Supporters of Anna Hazare wave placards during a protest rally against corruption in Mumbai
Supporters of Anna Hazare wave placards during a protest rally against corruption in Mumbai Reuters

Indian officials have arrested hundreds of supporters of Anna Hazare, the anti-corruption campaigner, who is waging a hunger strike and has been arrested by police.

Up to 1,300 people were detained, following the detention of Hazare who is fasting ahead of a vote on a proposed new anti-graft law. Police vowed not allow Hazare, who is 74, to fast for more than three days running.

Hazare has reportedly been jailed for a week in the Tihar prison in Delhi.

The Home Minister P Chidambaram explained that the detentions were authorized because the crowd did not obey police conditions for the demonstration.

"Nowhere in the world are protests allowed without conditions," Chidambaram added.

"We are not prohibiting a peaceful democratic protest - we are trying to find a reasonable set of conditions under which protests can take place."

Hazare complained that the newly proposed anti=corruption law doesn’t go far enough and that it should allow an independent panel or ombudsman to investigate any government officials, including even the prime minister and top judges.

Hazare has described the new anti-corruption legislation a "cruel joke" and said his battle against corruption is like the "second war of independence".

Government and corporate corruption are endemic in India, costing the nations untold billions of dollars. The current administration of of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been battered by a series of scandals involving senior officials.

Soutik Biswas, a correspondent for BBC, wrote: “Nobody denies that Mr Hazare's movement against corruption has touched a chord among many Indians, who are fed up with corruption and the political class. Nobody denies that corruption is India's biggest threat to growth and all-round prosperity and development. At the same time, many believe that framing the corruption debate only in the terms of the state versus Mr Hazare-led 'civil society' threatens to trivialize the war on corruption and augurs ill for India.”