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Police firm, Anna faces arrest

With Anna Hazare and his camp refusing to accept six of the 22 conditions set by the Delhi Police for his fast to press for a lokpal bill drafted by them, his arrest seemed imminent. HT reports. Points of discord

delhi Updated: Aug 16, 2011 01:25 IST
HT Correspondents
anna hazare

People-wave-the-national-flag-as-they-surround-73-year-old-anti-corruption-crusader-Anna-Hazare-during-a-protest-at-Rajghat-in-New-Delhi

With social activist Anna Hazare and his camp refusing to accept six of the 22 conditions set by the Delhi Police for his fast to press for a lokpal bill drafted by them, his arrest seemed imminent.

Late Monday, 50 of Hazare's supporters were detained for gathering at the proposed JP Park venue of the protest for violating prohibitory orders, the police said.

A lokpal bill incorporating several suggestions by the Anna Camp is currently in Parliament but the activists said nothing less than a complete acceptance of their version is acceptable. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/16_08_11_pg01a.jpg

"We will march to JP Park tomorrow morning and if arrested, I will fast in custody. When I am released, I will go there again to start my fast," Hazare declared at a press conference, dubbed as an "address to the nation".

Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said, "We have denied them permission to protest at JP Park. Section 144 that restricts a gathering of people has been imposed at the park and all roads leading to it. If anyone tries to defy the orders, the punishment can vary from preventive custody to arrest."

The police told the Anna Camp that their agitation in JP Park near ITO, it couldn't be allowed for more than three days.

When the Anna Camp insisted on permission for an indefinite period, the police offered a venue in Burari on the outskirts of the city, which Hazare turned down.

All other conditions set for the agitation are common to gatherings in the city and guided by various court orders.

Concluding an afternoon filled with drama, Hazare exhorted all Indians to join him in jail as he could be arrested.

"Lakhs of people will rise in my support in villages across India, and there will be a jail bharo (fill prisons) agitation." Describing the country's independence as fake and inadequate, Hazare said its time for a "second independence struggle".

Hazare earlier visited Rajghat, the resting place of Mahatma Gandhi, for a "meditation".

At a press conference later, Hazare thanked the media for supporting his movement.

"The media is the fourth pillar of democracy," he said, adding that he is willing to "fetch water in Kapil Sibal's house" if the lokpal bill suggested by him does not bring down corruption by "60 to 65%".

Hazare however said his fight is not restricted to a lokpal but for a systemic transformation.

Elaborating, he said, "Eighty percent of Indians earn R20 or less a day. Others are earning several thousands every day," adding that the country is "being run by industrialists.

Therefore, what we require is a systemic transformation, not merely a change of government."

He said he respected Parliament but asked why "this sacred place has tainted people".