In a late night breakthrough in the deadlock between Anna Hazare and Delhi police over the duration of his anti-corruption protest, the Gandhian accepted the offer for two weeks of hunger strike beginning today at the Ramlila Maidan.
“Anna has accepted the DP (Delhi Police) permission for two weeks (of fast). Anna now shall be at the Ramlila Ground post 3 pm”, Mr. Hazare’s aide Kiran Bedi tweeted.
The breakthrough came after a nearly 30-minute meeting Mr. Hazare aides Ms. Bedi, Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Mr. Manish Sisodia and Mr. Arvind Kejriwal had with Delhi Police Commissioner B.K. Gupta at the latter’s residence in Chanakyapuri shortly after midnight.
Ms. Bedi said the Police Commissioner offered permission for 15 days of protest at the Ramlila Ground, after which she, along with Mr. Bhushan, Mr. Sisodia and Mr. Kejriwal went back to the Tihar Jail to apprise Mr. Hazare of the offer.
Later, Ms. Bedi said on the micro-blogging site that Delhi Police “removed the unacceptable conditions and offered 15 days permission. Anna accepted there”.
An announcement to this effect was also made by an associate of Mr. Hazare’s outside the Tihar jail, which was greeted with cheers by hundreds of supporters.
“Anna has won. We will get Jan Lokpal Bill”, one of the protesters said.
While Delhi police had climbed down and dropped almost all the conditions it had sought to impose on Mr. Hazare’s protest. In fact, the police had suggested that the protest be held in Ramlila Maidan, a bigger venue than JP Park, which Mr. Hazare had initially picked. The only sticking point between the two sides had been the duration of the hunger strike.
“We met the Police Commissioner to help resolve the timeframe”, Ms. Bedi said.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Hazare escalated his battle of attrition with the government refusing to come out of Tihar Jail. The Gandhian spent a second night in the Tihar jail complex as negotiations had continued between Team Anna and the police.
The hard bargaining came on a day when the Opposition launched a renewed attack on the government in Parliament over Mr. Hazare’s arrest. Rallies in support of the Gandhian continued across the country, including a huge procession from India Gate to Parliament House.
'Good sense has prevailed'
Anna Hazare will leave the Tihar jail on Thursday afternoon and is likely to visit the Raj Ghat before starting his hunger strike for Jan Lokpal at the Ramlila Ground after 3 p.m., Ms. Bedi said.
Ms. Bedi said the government should get a fresh Lokpal Bill introduced in Parliament and have it passed “in accordance with aspirations of the people”.
Replying to a question, Ms. Bedi said there was no pressure by the Delhi Police on Hazare to accept any condition.
“None of the conditions which we had earlier opposed relating to the number of people to be allowed at the protest venue and parking of vehicles were included in the Delhi Police’s permission for the fast, which is a very good and sensible sign”, Ms. Bedi said. “If necessity arises, Team Anna can get the fast extended”, she added.
Ms. Bedi said Neeraj Kumar, the Director General of Tihar Jail, got the best medical attention for Hazare during the latter’s stay in the jail.
Eminent cardiologist Naresh Trehan of Vedanta Medicity and government doctors would look after Hazare during his protest, she said.
Mr. Bhushan said, “Ultimately good sense has prevailed on the government and it has agreed to permit Hazare to fast."