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Updated: August 19, 2011 17:21 IST

Fast may go beyond 15 days: Arvind Kejriwal

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A supporter of Anna Hazare shouts slogans as he holds his handcuffed hands in front of the social activist's portrait during a protest in Hyderabad, on Thursday.
AP
A supporter of Anna Hazare shouts slogans as he holds his handcuffed hands in front of the social activist's portrait during a protest in Hyderabad, on Thursday.

Anna Hazare will come out of Tihar Jail at 11 a.m. and will go to Rajghat, the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi, before he launches his fortnight long protest from Ramlila Grounds.

Mr. Hazare, who is on fast for the fourth day and had spent the last three nights in Tihar jail, will address the crowd of supporters that have been thronging outside the prison complex for the last four days.

Mr. Hazare’s associate Kiran Bedi told reporters that he will go in a procession from the jail to Mayapuri, distance of about four-five kms and then drive down to Rajghat. From there he will go to India Gate in central Delhi before moving to Ramlila Grounds, a short distance from there.

She appealed to the supporters not to block roads and traffic.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hazare’s associate and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said the 15-day fast for a strong Lokpal Bill may go beyond the period depending upon the government’s response to the agitation.

Mr. Kejriwal said Mr. Hazare was actually planning a longer programme for the protest fast but there was a legal problem. Delhi Police offered 21 days and later the two sides agreed on 15 days but that can be reviewed and the protest can be prolonged depending on what the government does on the demands put forward by Mr. Hazare, he said.

Asked if statements that Mr. Hazare’s fast is indefinite and not a fast unto death indicated a climbdown, Mr. Kejriwal said, “There is no climbdown. Anna Hazare never used the word fast unto death. It is an indefinite fast. Anna used the word indefinite because it is more spiritual. Fast unto death seems a little more in the connotation of blackmail.” He blamed the media for using the word fast unto death.

Replying to questions about the possibility of certain organisations and individuals supporting the movement becoming violent, he said, “You have seen the movement so far remaining non-violent. This shows the spirituality of the entire movement.”

Mr. Kejriwal said it is the responsibility of the administration to take precautions so that anti-social elements do not penetrate the movement. “If at all anything happens, I assure you that it’s not by the people, it will be by some people who try to create disturbance. Police need to keep a watch on that. We have told everyone that if you see someone doing that, please immediately ask the person to stop,” he said.

Talking about the preparations on the ground, Mr. Kejriwal said no grand preparations are being planned and things will be set up as the fast goes.

Large number of persons have turned up at the jail to welcome the anti-corruption crusader’s release.

Though release orders for Mr. Hazare were issued soon after he reached Tihar, the Gandhian refused to come out unless allowed to hold his fast unconditionally.

Later, his team had reached an agreement with the government yesterday under which Delhi Police had removed all restrictions and allowed him to carry out his hunger strike for a fortnight in the spacious Ramlila Maidan here.

Police personnel have been deployed around the jail and even a helicopter has been pressed into service.

Ms. Bedi said the Delhi Police Commissioner has agreed to grant them further extension if asked for. “There is no ban on number of days. All restrictive conditions have been removed. We have got an open permission to hold peaceful protest,” she told reporters outside the jail.

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