New Delhi: In an early morning crackdown, Anna Hazare and his close aides were detained by police after the Gandhian vowed to go ahead with his fast for a strong Lokpal and defy prohibitory orders at the venue of his agitation.
High drama was witnessed in Mayur Vihar area in east Delhi when police detained the 73-year-old Hazare at about 7:30 am from an apartment about three hours before he was to sit on his agitation. A large number of supporters opposed the action and shouted slogans supporting him.
Home Secretary R K Singh said Hazare was detained because he said he intended to defy prohibitory orders and sit on fast at J P Park in central Delhi. Delhi Police had denied permission for his fast after he refused to abide by all the 22 conditions set by them for the agitation.
Hazare’s close aides Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal were detained outside Rajghat. Lawyer Shanti Bhushan was also picked up.
“We will move the Supreme Court,” Prashant Bhushan, lawyer and close associate of Hazare, told PTI.
Describing his detention by police as the beginning of the “second freedom struggle”, Hazare asked people to participate in a “jail bharo” agitation.
“My dear countrymen, second freedom struggle has begun and now I have also been arrested. But will this movement be stopped by my arrest. No not at all. Don’t let it happen,” Hazare said in a pre-recorded message.
Police had made elaborate arrangements and stationed several buses and trucks in Mayur Vihar, Rajghat and other places to ferry Hazare’s supporters.
Senior BJP leader L K Advani said he was not surprised at the detention of Hazare and charged the government with looking for scapegoats and stopping peaceful protests instead of fighting corruption.
“I am not surprised at this development. This is the direction in which this government is moving. Instead of dealing with the problem of corruption and owning responsibility it is trying to find scapegoats and stopping peaceful protests,” Advani said.
Flaying the police move, Bedi said, “Emergency has revisited the country. This detention is undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
Around 500 supporters were with Anna at the time of his detention.
According to sources, senior police officials, including DCP (Crime) Ashok Chand, met with Hazare this morning at the east Delhi apartment where he was staying in a bid to convince him to not go ahead with his planned protest defying prohibitory orders at J P Park.
However, Hazare turn down the request following which he was detained.
“We have detained him as he did not budge from his position of defying prohibitory orders,” police official said.
Chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ and ‘Vande Matram,’ supporters created hurdles in the way of the police which were trying to take him to a nearby police station.
Hazare said, “Time has come my countrymen when there should be no place left in jails in India to accommodate any more persons,” he said while asking people to maintain peace.
“I once again request my fellow countrymen that peace should be maintained and there must be no violence…Crores of people have joined this movement and second line of leaders are standing to lead this movement,” he said.
After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh slammed him for resorting to fast as a protest when Parliament was seized of the Lokpal bill, the Gandhian had said yesterday that he will go to J P park despite Delhi Police imposing prohibitory orders.
Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat had said that 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.
Hazare had also accused the Prime Minister of “speaking” the language of his ministerial colleague Kapil Sibal, saying the Lokpal bill was before Parliament which will take the call.