The stand-off between Anna Hazare and the government ended on Thursday with an agreement showing a give-and-take on both sides as the Gandhian will launch an indefinite fast in New Delhi on Friday for 15 days subject to certain conditions.
A breakthrough in the deadlock over conditions imposed on Mr. Hazare’s protest fast was achieved in the small hours of the day after two nights of hard bargaining. But Mr. Hazare will spend one more night in Tihar jail as new venue was still not ready.
Mr. Hazare got from Delhi Police the spacious Ramlila Ground for his fast instead of the smaller J.P. Park, the venue initially given with a restriction of 5,000 supporters.
Significantly, Team Anna made it clear that his fast would not be a fast-unto-death and he will be on hunger strike only till his health permits.
Mr. Hazare’s close associates Kiran Bedi said the moment Dr. Naresh Trehan’s team is of the view that he needs medical attention, he will get medical attention.
Close on the heels of the deal, Team Anna also hinted that it may not insist on inclusion of higher judiciary in the Lokpal Bill if government brings a “good” Judicial Accountability Bill.
The activists also pleaded that the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by them should at least be brought to Parliament for its consideration.
Earlier, the deal was reached in discussions between his associates including Ms. Bedi and Prashant Bhushan and Delhi Police Commissioner B.K. Gupta.
In a sort of give-and-take, Team Anna won a number of concessions but came down on the duration of the protest restricting it to 15 days. On Wednesday, the activists were insisting on a longer period of at least a month for the protest.
Home Secretary R.K. Singh maintained that the permission given for the fast is conditional and is up to September 2.
“The Delhi Police discussed with Team Anna and, thereafter, they have come to a decision. What the Delhi Police conveyed to the Ministry of Home Affairs is that the permission was given till September two on the usual sort of conditions,” he told reporters.
Mr. Singh said it was not proper to say the agreement was a victory for one side and defeat for the other “but the basic issue was that permission for certain ground and certain period was given with some sort of conditions”.
Apparently referring to the conditions put for fast earlier proposed in J.P. Park, the Home Secretary said conditions of a particular ground mandated a certain size of crowd as well as of available parking.
Team Anna has given a two-page undertaking to police in which they agreed to abide by existing rules and regulations and the crowd will not exceed the capacity of the ground, which is around 25,000 people.
In the undertaking signed by Mr. Hazare himself and his associates — Arvind Kejriwal, Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Ms. Bedi and Shanti Bhushan, they also said that if any clause of it was violated, they would be liable to be prosecuted under law.
The clauses of the undertaking include — no damage to public property; gathering will not exceed the limit of the ground; the crowd will not spill over to the nearby roads; the protesters will cooperate with traffic police; loud speaker use within the ambit of a Supreme Court order (10 p.m. limit).
Other clauses are: Arrangements of drinking water, medical aid, mobile toilets, proper lighting; no carrying of lathi or any weapon; no provocative slogans/speeches; no inflammatory slogans within 200 meters of religious or worship places; public safety will be taken care of; no use of crackers.
Medical examination of Mr. Hazare and those who will fast along with him will be conducted by government doctors three times a day while Team Anna promised to abide by the April 16, 2009 order of the Supreme Court which stipulated rules and regulations for public protests.
In the morning, Ms. Bedi first broke the news of agreement over twitter saying Mr. Hazare has accepted the Delhi Police offer of fasting for 15 days and that he will go to Ramlila Ground after 3 p.m.