Anna Hazare leaves jail, rallies supporters

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NEW DELHI, August 19 (agencies): The Indian activist who has been leading protests for tougher anticorruption measures left jail today to begin a public hunger strike.

Boys climbed trees for a view. Vendors handed out sweets for free. Students cut classes to see history. And when their anticorruption hero Anna Hazare emerged from jail today, cheers went up by the thousands.

Hazare, the Indian activist who was arrested Tuesday for defying protest restrictions, addressed the crowd. The loudspeaker failed, then the skies dumped monsoon showers. But it didn’t really matter. Most have already absorbed his message: No one should be above account from a corruption watchdog bill.

Under a deal struck with police, Hazare left the prison and set up a public fast at Ramlila fairgrounds in the center of the city. The grounds can hold tens of thousands of people. Several thousands showed up Friday afternoon, braving rain that turned much of the area in to massive puddles and streams of mud.

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