New Delhi: Country’s biggest anti-corruption icon Anna Hazare will on Friday proceed to Ramlila Maidan to launch a 15-day protest against to press for a stronger Lokpal Bill.
As per reports, Anna will leave Tihar Jail for Ramlila ground around 11 am where he will continue his fast for a stronger anti-corruption bill, his aide Arvind Kejriwal said.
Anna is also expected to visit Rajghat to pay his respect to the Father of the Nation Mahatama Gandhi before reaching his fast venue.
“He’ll (Hazare) address the gathering once he comes out of jail and leave for Ramlila ground. He should leave Tihar jail around 11 am,” Kejriwal told reporters.
“The crowds gathered to support Anna Hazare are spiritual, and there have been no incidents of violence so far in the country where political rallies turn violent easily,” Kejriwal said.
“We’ve asked all our supporters that if they see anyone indulging in unsocial behaviour, they should immediately report to police,” he added.
Meanwhile, elaborate security arrangements have been put in place by Delhi Police to avoid any untoward incidents and last minute preparations are still on at the Ramlila Ground under the supervision of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for Anna’s agitation.
A breakthrough in the deadlock over conditions imposed on Hazare’s protest fast was achieved yesterday after two days of intense bargaining. Anna finally got the spacious Ramlila Ground for his fast instead of the smaller JP Park, the venue initially given by Delhi Police with a restriction of 5,000 supporters.
Significantly, Team Hazare made it clear that his fast would not be a fast-unto-death and he will be on hunger strike only till his health permits.
Hazare’s close associate Kiran Bedi said the moment Dr Naresh Trehan’s team is of the view that he needs medical attention, he will get medical attention.
Close on the heels of the deal, Team Hazare also hinted that it may not insist on inclusion of higher judiciary in the Lokpal Bill if government brings a “good” Judicial Accountability Bill.
The activists also pleaded that the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by them should at least be brought to Parliament for its consideration.
The deal was reached in discussions between his associates including Bedi and Prashant Bhushan and Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta.
In a sort of give-and-take, Team Hazare won a number of concessions but came down on the duration of the protest restricting it to 15 days. Yesterday, the activists were insisting on a longer period of at least a month for the protest.
Home Secretary RK Singh maintained that the permission given for the fast is conditional and is upto September 2.
“The Delhi Police discussed with Team Anna and, thereafter, they have come to a decision. What the Delhi Police conveyed to the Ministry of Home Affairs is that the permission was given till September two on the usual sort of conditions,” he told reporters.
Singh said it was not proper to say the agreement was a victory for one side and defeat for the other “but the basic issue was that permission for certain ground and certain period was given with some sort of conditions.”
Apparently referring to the conditions put for fast earlier proposed in JP Park, the Home Secretary said conditions of a particular ground mandated a certain size of crowd as well as of available parking.
In return, Team Anna has given a two-page undertaking to Delhi Police in which it agreed to abide by existing rules and regulations and the crowd will not exceed the capacity of the ground, which is around 25,000 people.
In the undertaking signed by Anna Hazare himself and his associates — Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi and Shanti Bhushan, they also said that if any clause of it was violated, they would be liable to be prosecuted under law.
The clauses of the undertaking include — no damage to public property; gathering will not exceed the limit of the ground; the crowd will not spill over to the nearby roads; the protesters will cooperate with traffic police; loud speaker use within the ambit of a Supreme Court order (10 PM limit).
Other clauses are: Arrangements of drinking water, medical aid, mobile toilets, proper lighting; no carrying of lathi or any weapon; no provocative slogans/ speeches; no inflammatory slogans within 200 meters of religious or worship places; public safety will be taken care of; no use of crackers.
Medical examination of Hazare and those who will keep fast along with him will be conducted by government doctors three times a day while Team Anna promised to abide by the April 16, 2009 order of the Supreme Court which stipulated rules and regulations for public protests.