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Anna refuses to come out of jail

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Civil society activist Anna Hazare, who is fasting for a stronger Lok Pal Bill, continued to keep the government in discomfiture as he refused to come out of Tihar Jail tonight, despite being released a few hours after he was arrested and sent to jail for refusing to sign a bail bond.

Anna HazareAt the time of going to press, the septuagenarian activist refused to leave the jail, saying he wanted assurances that he would be allowed to fast and protest the way he wanted.

The move followed a meeting called by Congress General Secretary with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister and political advisor to the Congress President, The Prime Minister then spoke to Home Minister

“The decision to arrest him was an administrative one. The decision to release him was political,” said a minister in the government. The government has already introduced a Bill on Lok Pal in Parliament, but the Hazare camp has been protesting the exclusion of several recommendations made by it.

7:30 AM Anna Hazare, and Manish Sisodia 
taken into detention from Mayur Vihar-I.
8:00 AM Hazare taken to Delhi Police officers’ mess in 
North Delhi.
8:45 AM taken into detention from Rajghat
10:00 AM Hazare moved to the office of DCP (West)
11:00 AM Shanti Bhushan taken into detention
3:30 PM The Special Executive Magistrate sends Hazare to 
seven-day judicial custody in Tihar Jail 

Hazare’s associate and spokesperson, Bibhav Kumar, said there was no confirmation on what exactly were the conditions attached to his release. He said he merely heard reports that Hazare had rejected the release order saying it was conditional. “has asked that he should be allowed to continue his fast at Jaya Prakash Narayan park or else he will continue the fast inside Tihar Jail. Anna has asked that he should get it in writing that he would be allowed to continue fast at the park,” said Manish Sisodia, a Hazare supporter, after coming out of prison.

Hazare and his supporters, including rights activist Arvind Kejriwal, former IPS officer and Sisodia, were arrested and sent to seven days’ judicial custody for refusing to sign a bond saying they would not violate Section 144, which prohibits the assembly of five or more people, in the course of their fast.

Hazare and his 1,300 associates were arrested early morning for violating the terms on which the police had granted them the right to hold a sit-in at the protest site. Bedi was let off in the evening, as she was booked under a different section. Later, the government decided to release others.

Hazare’s supporters have called for public protest. They urged government servants to go on a mass casual leave tomorrow as a mark of protest. They also promised to intensify their campaign across the state capitals. “No more talks with the government,” said lawyer Prashant Bhushan, a key member of Team Hazare.

A case will be filed in the Supreme Court protesting the alleged illegal detention of Hazare and his supporters.

Hazare’s arrest triggered unrest across the country, as his supporters were out in large numbers in several state capitals. Leaders of the ruling Congress party flatly rejected the notion that the protests were spontaneous. Both the Houses of Parliament were adjourned without transacting any business over the detention of Hazare and his supporters. On behalf of the government, three ministers — Home Minister P Chidambaram, Information Minister Ambika Soni and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal — explained what had led the government to clamp on the protest and also outlined what the government would do next. They said the government had no option but to order the arrest after protestors refused to accept conditions for their meeting.

“Nowhere in the world are protests allowed without conditions,” said Chidambaram. “We are not prohibiting a peaceful democratic protest — we are trying to find a reasonable set of conditions under which protests can take place.”

He said whatever action taken against Hazare was according to a public order assessment of the Delhi Police, and not politically mandated.

On Hazare’s Jan Lok Pal Bill, he said the only way to make a law in India was to entrust Parliament with it. If Hazare and others wanted a law with their ideas on it, they were free to have more meetings with the Standing Committee.

First Published: Wed, August 17 2011. 00:08 IST