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Anna calls for 'Jail Bharo' agitation

Last updated on: August 16, 2011 00:27 IST

'Going to jail for the country is no crime'



Anna Hazare is all set for a full blown confrontation with the government on the Lokpal bill, giving a call to his supporters to fill up jails across the country if he is arrested on Tuesday after being denied permission to hold fast in Delhi and prohibitory orders clamped.

Addressing a press conference on Monday after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh slammed him for resorting to fast as a protest when Parliament was seized of the Lokpal bill, the Gandhian said he will go to Jai Prakash Narain Park on Tuesday, the venue of his fast despite Delhi police imposing prohibitory orders.

"I come to understand that I will be refused permission. We will go there. If I am arrested, I will continue my hunger strike in the jail. If I am released, I will go back to the venue and this circle will continue," he said at a 30-minute press conference that came to an end to coincide with his "lights-off" call throughout the country from 8 pm.

He said once he is arrested, people should fill up the jails in every village across the country. "Going to jail for the country is no crime...It is a decoration," he said.

Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC has been imposed in some areas of Daryaganj and IP police stations, which include Jai Prakash Narain Park and Shaheed Park.

The Delhi police denied permission to Hazare and his supporters after the organisers refused to give an undertaking that the protest would end on the third day and they would restrict the number of agitators to 5,000.

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Image: Anna Hazare
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

'People assembling at the park would face legal action'

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"We will court arrest on Tuesday. The conditions laid by the Delhi police are unconstitutional. Unfortunately, they are under directions," said Anna Hazare's close aide and former 'super cop' Kiran BediBedi when asked about the police denying permission to Hazare to hold his indefinite hunger strike at Jai Prakash Narain Park in New Delhi.

Hazare's fellow activist Arvind Kejriwal said Team Anna feels he and some civil society members could be arrested on Monday night or Tuesday and asked his supporters to keep the protest movement going if they are picked up.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Northern Range), Sudhir Yadav, said anybody assembling at the park on Tuesday would face legal action.

"We have denied permission. Nobody is supposed to come to the park. If somebody comes there, it is unlawful. They will be handled according to law. If they do that, it is violation of law," Yadav said as police prepared to lock down the grounds.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh reviewed the situation with Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta and other top officials at the police headquarters.

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Image: Supporters of activist Anna Hazare at a rally against corruption in Mumbai
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
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Prohibitory orders in force at Anna's protest site

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"It is now a fight to the finish," he said, adding they were not for pulling down the government but if falls in the process, they don't care.

Speaking about repeated assertions from the government's side that he was undermining democracy, he said, "Don't we know democracy? Is democracy only wining elections after spending money? Four MPs are in jail and there are charges against nearly 150 others."

Police on Tuesday imposed prohibitory orders in some central Delhi localities, including Jai Prakash Narain Park, the venue of Anna Hazare's fast in protest against the official Lokpal Bill. Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed in some areas of Daryaganj and IP police stations, which include Jai Prakash Narain Park and Shaheed Park.

The areas where prohibitory orders are imposed include Shantivan to Rajghat, Rajghat to Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg to JLN Marg, Delhi Gate to Tilak Marg on Bahadurshah Zafar Marg.

The orders came following police denying permission to Hazare to hold the protest at the park after organisers refused to give an undertaking restricting the number of protest days to three and protestors to 5,000.

A large contingent of police, including women personnel, around Jai Prakash Narain Park to ensure that no untoward incident take place.

Image: Supporters of activist Anna Hazare burn copies of the Lokpal Bill
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters
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'We are not the traffic police'

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A press release issued by team Anna cites the reasons on the basis on which the Delhi Police disallowed protests at Jai Prakash Narayan Park in Delhi. Team Anna said that they refused to accept 6 conditions the police put forth in its 22-point undertaking.

- A guarantee that not more than 50 vehicles will be parked.

- No more than 5000 people will gather although the capacity of the park is in excess of 20,000.

- The protest will be for only three days, while we have sought indefinite.

- There will be no tent or protection for the assembly of people

- A government doctor will examine Anna Hazare to decide whether he is in danger and needs to be taken away.

- That there will be no loudspeaker or amplified audio facilities. This would put a large crowd in danger, as no instructions can be given to maintain order in case too many people gather.

Team Anna rejected these conditions as they felt it was a clear violation of their fundamental rights.

"It is not our job. We are not the traffic police. They should make alternative arrangements to handle traffic," said Bedi. Bedi noted that they were not flouting any law and would court arrest on Tuesday wherever the police stops them.

Kejriwal questioned the logic of the conditions set by the police. "All these conditions are unreasonable and unjustified," he said. "We are not allowed to erect tents. It is raining these days. How will these tents pose a security threat? Where will people take shelter from rain," he said.

On the restriction on vehicles to be parked, he said, "Why allow only 50 vehicles to be parked. Why not 100? Why not 75? How have they arrived at this figure of 50? It is completely arbitrary". 

Image: People write letters in favour of Lokpal Bill to support Anna Hazare
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters
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