Minutes after anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare declared his resolve to undertake his fast-unto-death at central Delhi's Jayaprakash Narayan Park despite being denied permission by the authorities concerned, the Delhi police imposed restrictive orders in and around the area.
At around 8:45pm on Monday, the police decided to impose Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC).
Violation of the Cr.PC, by entering an area where it is in force or by congregating there in numbers exceeding five persons, can not only attract detention but also arrest under relevant sections of the IPC depending on the offence committed. According to police sources, Anna Hazare will be whisked away to the Chhatrasal Stadium in north Delhi if and when he is arrested/detained.
"Since there is imminent threat to the law and order situation in the area due to the other party's declaration of courting arrest, we have imposed 144 Cr.PC not only at the said venue, but also on all routes leading to it," said a senior police officer requesting anonymity.
After a brain-storming session that lasted several hours even as Hazare sought inner strength by praying at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi just a kilometre away, the police were deciding on creating a 'square of prohibition' to make JP Park out-of-bounds for Team Anna.
According to police, the order would especially be in force on the Ring Road connecting Shanti Van to Rajghat,
from Rajghat to the adjacent Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg, on the parallel Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, and from Delhi Gate to Tilak Marg on Bahadurshah Zafar Marg.
Sources said the decision was taken after Team Anna, during their press conference on August 14, expressed their wish to march down to the venue in central Delhi from its eastern side.
"In view of the orders, we have requested that two magistrates be made available to us as and when detentions or arrests need to be made. We will have adequate force on the ground and also on the standby," the officer said.
Owing to a recent court order banning the use of lathis by officers, the police contingent deployed in and around the protest venue in central Delhi will be unarmed as such. However, this will not be the case as far as their reserves, available on-call, are concerned.