New Delhi: After two nights in Tihar Jail and hard bargaining, Anna Hazare and government reached an agreement early this morning under which Delhi Police removed all restrictions and allowed him to carry out his hunger strike for a fortnight in the spacious Ramlila Maidan here.
The breakthrough in the battle of attribution between the two sides came in the wee hours of the day after top aides of Hazare met Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta and reached an agreement.
The deal marks a major climbdown from government and police’s earlier insistence that the fast would be allowed at JP Park, a smaller venue, only for three days with maximum of 5,000 protesters besides a number of other conditions.
The agreement came more than 40 hours after Hazare’s arrest of Tuesday and release the same night. However, the Gandhian refused to come out of the jail, continued his fast and carried out hard negotiations from Tihar through his emissaries.
Activist Kiran Bedi tweeted early morning that Hazare has accepted the Delhi Police offer of 15 days and announced that he will go to Ramlila Maidan after 3 pm.
However, another close aide of the 73-year-old Gandhian said this morning that it may not be possible for Hazare to launch his protest from the Ramlila Ground today as the venue was full of muck and needs cleaning up.
“I have just spoken to Commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (K S Mehra) who has promised me that a Deputy Commissioner would supervise the cleaning up operations at the Maidan,” Kejriwal said.
He said Hazare going to the protest venue “looked difficult” as of now. “We can’t give a time as to whether it would start today…if it is possible, (he may do it).”
Bedi had earlier said that Hazare would go to Rajghat before starting his protest in the Maidan after 3 PM.
Confirming the deal, Home Secretary R K Singh said, “Delhi Police and Anna Hazare Team have agreed on the venue, duration, conditions etc.”
“Delhi Police and the Anna Hazare team worked out between themselves this agreement. The Delhi Police has no problem in giving 15 days time and the 15 days also suits the Anna Team,” he said.
Kejriwal said Hazare does not want to go before proper arrangements are made at the fast venue because once the crowd gather, it would be difficult to put in place proper facilities.
Arrangements like erection of tents and provision of drinking water facilities were being made.
He said that Hazare’s health was perfectly okay and doctors from Medanta Medicity headed by Naresh Trehan have already checked him and certified him fit.
“I am fine, I am ready to walk two kilometres just now,” Hazare was quoted as saying by Kejriwal whose remarks were loudly cheered by hundreds of the Gandhian’s supporters gathered outside Tihar.
Last night, Hazare refused a check up by doctors from GB Pant hospital apprehending that they may remove him from the jail on health grounds.
Asserting that the government has bowed down to people’s pressure, Kejriwal said, “we have just entered the battle, a long fight remains.”
He appealed to the government to give a chance to the Jan Lokpal draft prepared by the civil society for Parliament to discuss.
“People have a right to say what draft will go to Parliament. They are supreme in democracy,” he said rejecting government’s contention that civil society cannot make law.