Home minister P Chidambaram made it clear on Tuesday that the Centre was not against protests per se but was merely insistent that law and order be maintained.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Chidambaram said "We are not prohibiting a peaceful protest...We (the administration) have set some reasonable conditions. Anyone can protest but it must be reasonable. Ultimately this is the capital of India and maintaining law and order is not an easy task."
The home minister said he had come prepared with a statement to make in Parliament on the detention of Anna Hazare but was regrettably not allowed to do so. He pointed out that there was always the option of "legal remedy" if "anyone is unhappy."
The steel in the velvet glove, however, was unmistakeable when the home minister said "If someone tries to defy law and order that is not acceptable."
On the issue of Hazare, the home minister told reporters, "None of us are very happy. It is a painful duty that we are performing almost every day." On August 2, the Anna group, he said, had submitted an application relating to a one month fast. The group reached an agreement with Delhi Police about a fast at JP Park subject to certain conditions.
The home minister pointed out that the group was violating several conditions right from the beginning.
There was an attempt by the administration to meet Anna Hazare on Monday, the home minister said but added that it did not succeed. On Monday morning when the Delhi Police approached him and asked him (Anna Hazare) to desist, the activist insisted that he would proceed to JP Park and announced his intentions to defy the Delhi Police. Subsequently he was placed under preventive detention.