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Day II: Hazare refuses to leave Tihar, govt in a fix

india Updated: Aug 17, 2011 11:31 IST

Agencies
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Tired-supporters-of-anti-corruption-activist-Anna-Hazare-rest-after-a-night-long-vigil-outside-a-gate-of-Tihar-prison-to-lend-their-support-to-his-fight-against-corruption-in-New-Delhi

Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare refused to leave Tihar jail in Delhi for the second day on Wednesday after he was arrested and jailed a day before on Tuesday, but was then released by the authorities in a U-turn within 12 hours.

Hazare, who is campaigning for a stronger lokpal bill to curtail corruption, is on hunger strike, has refused to eat said Manish Sisodia, a colleague of the activist who spoke to TV channels. Arvind Kejriwal, an RTI activist and a prominent leader of Hazare's movement, is in Tihar too, said Sisodia.

Hazare's refusal to leave Tihar prison may prove to be a headache for the government, which has been perceived to be floundering, with Congress leaders struggling to defend their earlier hardline stand against a Gandhian who has become an icon in India's war on corruption.

On Wednesday, thousands of activists plan to protest outside Tihar in support of Hazare, Rallies, candle light vigils and marches are planned across India.

This morning, sources said, Hazare got up at around 5.00 am and was involved in a discussion with Kejriwal and his
other associates who are in the prison along with him.

Sisodia today said that the "We don't have any information on when he will come out." Outside the jail premises, hundreds of people stayed through the night and expressed solidarity with Hazare and his campaign against corruption.

R K Saxena, a school teacher, said: "I am here to support this great cause. Government must accept Anna's demand for the
welfare of the country."

Shouting anti-corruption slogans and holding the national tricolour, people from all walks of life started coming in
large numbers from early hours of the day and joined others who were standing outside the jail premises through the night.

Ashwaq, a 38-year-old businessman, said: "I am fasting with Anna and other supporters since yesterday. I will continue my fast till Anna is freed from the jail and all his demands are accepted by the government."

Morning walkers also joined the supporters demanding that the Government release Anna Hazare and his supporters. Rakesh, a student, said "I am fasting with Anna for the bill and to uproot corruption from the country".

"It is inhuman to punish Anna and others like this. He is fighting for the people and for the country. Government must
pass Jan Lokpal bill," Rekha Lalwani, a DU student, said.

The arrests of Hazare and his aides crippled parliament as an otherwise divided opposition closed ranks. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist called for nationwide protests Wednesday. Opposition parties want a debate in Parliament over Hazare's arrest and the Prime Minister to explain why the government took the step.

Hazare was taken into custody on Tuesday morning from a residential area in east Delhi after he refused to accept conditions set by the Delhi Police for his fast to press for his team's version of the lokpal bill. Hazare wants all fetters on his protest to be removed.

(With inputs from PTI)