Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare’s journey from Mayur Vihar to Tihar on Tuesday was full of things expected and unexpected.
Hazare’s arrest, technically, preventive detention, from his night camp at Supreme Enclave in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar before he embarked on fast-unto-death was on expected lines, what was unexpected, and perhaps, unprecedented, was his release later at night.
At around 10.30 pm, IAC campaigner Manish Sisodia came out of Tihar jail and told, “Annaji says he will come out of the jail only when given permission to protest at Jai Prakash Narayan Park.”
The announcement sent the crowds gathered outside the high security jail cheering loudly even as those watching the developments from their homes across the city and the country wondered what would be the further course of action. Senior police officers maintained that Hazare and his supporters were released because “his freedom would have contributed more to maintaining law and order rather than his arrest.”
However, sources claimed, “Team Anna had appealed not only to the government but also to us (police) assuring us verbally that Hazare would not court arrest again. This was the most important condition for his release.”
Earlier in the day, in an audio-visual message to his supporters, Hazare had said, “Come out on roads, court arrests and fill all jails in the country to capacity.” Hazare and his supporters, under the banner of India Against Corruption (IAC) were to start a fast-unto-death agitation demanding a strong Lokpal Bill.
Before Hazare’s release, his aides including Arvind Kejriwal and Sisodia were released along with five others arrested with him. Kiran Bedi and Shanti Bhushan too were released even as by 8.30 pm, police had started releasing the hundreds of supporters who had courted arrest in support of the movement and were detained at Chhatrasal Stadium through the day.
Soon after sunset, several places across Delhi witnessed candle light vigils, the main assembly point being the India Gate even as hundreds of supporters, mostly youngsters, thronged the fringes of Tihar jail shouting pro-Hazare slogans and demanding his release.
Before that, thousands gathered at Pragati Maidan metro station near ITO to express solidarity with the movement and to protest the unlawful arrest of the 73-year-old anti-graft crusader.