From Statesman news service
NEW DELHI, 16 AUG: The Centre was tonight faced with a piquant situation with Anna Hazare refusing to come out of Tihar Jail despite charges against him being withdrawn by Delhi Police and a release order being sent to the jail.
Over 15 hours after he was detained and remanded in judicial custody for seven days to prevent him from going on a fast in support of a stronger Lokpal Bill than what the UPA has come up with, the 74-year-old social activist, who is reportedly refusing food in jail, was insisting on an unconditional release and permission to begin his fast at the Jai Prakash Narain Park in central Delhi from where he had planned to launch his anti-graft stir this morning.
A Hazare aide said Anna had told the authorities that he would come out of jail only after written permission was given to him allowing him to observe his fast at JP Park. Mr Neeraj Kumar, Director-General, Tihar Jail, said all formalities for Mr Hazare’s release had been completed. But Anna has refused to leave Tihar as he wants an unconditional release, the official said.
Jail sources said Mr Hazare’s conditions have been communicated to the Centre for a final decision. Official sources said that warrants of release were sent to Tihar Jail after the Centre felt that keeping Mr Hazare and his seven associates in jail would create a law and order situation. A section of the Congress leadership also expressed the view that Anna’s arrest could have been avoided as it was widely perceived to be “a harsh and unnecessary measure”. “It will only make Mr Hazare a martyr; he should, like Baba Ramdev, have been relocated outside the Capital and released,” said a senior leader. Mr Hazare’s arrest triggered wide public outrage, evidenced by street protests and detention of thousands of his supporters across the country. The action provoked the Opposition’s furore within and outside Parliament.
But it all started when Delhi Police arrested Mr Hazare and some of his close aides at 7.30 a.m. from a flat in Mayur Vihar, east Delhi, when he refused to cancel his proposed indefinite fast at JP Park set to begin a couple of hours later. Police said Mr Hazare was intent on “violating prohibitory orders” under Section 144 of the CrPC imposed in the JP Park area after he refused to limit the agitation to three days and 5,000 participants. Anna was taken to a police officers’ mess in north Delhi after his arrest and then on to a police station. Mr Hazare and his seven associates including Mr Arvind Kejriwal and Mr Manish Sisodia were presented before a magistrate who remanded them to judicial custody for seven days after they refused to sign personal bonds that they would not violate prohibitory orders.
The anti-corruption crusaders were later sent to Tihar Jail where, ironically, a number of high-profile politicians, bureaucrats and corporate honchos ~ including Mr A Raja, Ms Kanimozhi and Mr Suresh Kalmadi ~ are incarcerated because of their alleged involvement in the 2G Spectrum and Commonwealth Games scams. Team Anna hit out at the government with Mr Hazare describing his detention in a pre-recorded message released after his arrest as the beginning of the “second freedom struggle”. He urged fellow citizens to pack the jails and not let the anti-corruption agitation fizzle out. His colleagues termed the police action as the “return of Emergency”; two of them, Mr Shanti Bhushan and Ms Kiran Bedi were also detained but released in the evening. More than 1,500 Anna supporters were detained in Delhi while hundreds of others were held in different parts of the country. Mr Prashant Bhushan announced a series of agitational programmes, including a march from India Gate to Parliament tomorrow. He also appealed to government employees to go on mass leave tomorrow to show solidarity with Mr Hazare’s cause. In a rare display of unity, virtually the entire Opposition, including the BJP-led NDA, the Left and even some of the UPA’s supporting allies came together to demand a statement in Parliament by the PM.
From Statesman news service