Delhi Police on Tuesday made it clear that Jantar Mantar is out of bounds for Anna Hazare's fast for a "strong" lokpal bill later this month, saying the venue has "little capacity" and no single organisation can be allowed to "usurp or lay exclusive claim" to it.
The Hazare Team, in turn, suggested four other places where they could sit in for protest from August 16, including Boat Club, Rajghat, Ramlila Maidan and Shaheed Park near ITO.
In a letter to Team Hazare, police said, “it is imperative for the duration of the dharna to be specified as no single organization can be allowed to usurp and lay exclusive claim to the place meant for holding demonstration or protest for an indefinate period of time.
"This space has to be shared equitably with others intending to hold peaceful protests and there are many claimants from all over India seeking to hold demonstration at Jantar Mantar site…This venue has little capacity and it would be difficult to accommodate the huge crowds expected by you and otherwise anticipated by the media,” the letter said.
Countering this, the Hazare team wrote to Police Commissioner B K Gupta asking why they were being denied permission when a three-day protest organised by another activist Medha Patkar at the same venue had been given a nod.
They claimed that they had already intimated police that the proposed fast is going to be one-month long and it was "wrong to say" that they did not define the time-limit.
Jantar Mantar, located barely a few hundred metres away from Delhi's heart Connaught Place, is the hotbed of protests in the capital. Hazare undertook a fast there in April, which evoked nationwide support and forced the government to agree to formation of a joint committee to draft lokpal bill.