Thursday, August 18, 2011

Indian Government, Anna Hazare Reach Agreement

After two nights in Tihar Jail and hard bargaining, Anna Hazare and Indian Government reached an agreement on early morning of 18 August under which Delhi Police removed all restrictions and allowed him to carry out his hunger strike for a fortnight in the spacious Ramlila Maidan, Delhi. The breakthrough in the battle of attribution between the two sides came in the wee hours of the day after top aides of Hazare met Delhi Police Commissioner Brijesh Gupta and reached an agreement.
The deal marks a major climb down from government and police's earlier insistence that the fast would be allowed at J.P. Park, a smaller venue, only for three days with maximum of 5,000 protesters in addition to a number of other conditions.
Result of Hard Negotiations
The agreement came more than 40 hours after Hazare's arrest of 16 August and release the same night. However, the Gandhian refused to come out of the jail, continued his fast and carried out hard negotiations from Tihar through his emissaries.
Activist Kiran Bedi tweeted that Hazare has accepted the Delhi Police offer of 15 days and announced that he will go to Ramlila Maidan after 1500.
However, another close aide of the 73-year-old Gandhian said this morning that it may not be possible for Hazare to launch his protest from the Ramlila Ground Thursday as the venue was full of muck and needs cleaning up.
Confirming the deal, Home Secretary R K Singh said: ‘Delhi Police and Anna Hazare Team have agreed on the venue, duration, conditions etc.’
‘Delhi Police and the Anna Hazare team worked out between themselves this agreement. The Delhi Police has no problem in giving 15 days time and the 15 days also suits the Anna Team,’ he said.
Kejriwal said Hazare does not want to go before proper arrangements are made at the fast venue because once the crowd gather, it would be difficult to put in place proper facilities.
He stated that arrangements like erection of tents and provision of drinking water facilities were being made. He said that Hazare's health was perfectly all right and doctors from Medanta Medicity headed by Naresh Trehan have already checked him and certified him fit.
Last night, Hazare refused a check up by doctors from GB Pant Hospital apprehending that they may remove him from the jail on health grounds.
Asserting that the government has bowed down to people's pressure, Kejriwal said: ‘We have just entered the battle, a long fight remains.’
He appealed to the government to give a chance to the Jan Lokpal [Ombudsman bill] draft prepared by the civil society for Parliament to discuss.
‘People have a right to say what draft will go to Parliament. They are supreme in democracy,’ he said rejecting government's contention that civil society cannot make law. Kejriwal also attacked the government for the arrest of Hazare and seven of his associates, including himself, on the morning of Tuesday and the decision to release all of them within hours.
He also disputed government's contention that the police did not seek remand of Hazare and others and that it was the decision of the executive magistrate's decision to remand them to seven days judicial custody.
‘First they arrested us on the ground that we will disturb peace. Police asked us to give a written undertaking that we will not go to JP Park. But we told them we will go there soon after our release. Then they asked for seven days custody,’ he said.
Kejriwal said there was a need for a debate over police power to detain and release people at will. ‘They say we are bad but how in two hours, we have become alright?...Are we toys? What kind of law and order and democracy is this?’
Hazare credited the people of India for this ‘victory’ and thanked them and thousands of people who took to the streets in a non-violent way throughout the country, he said quoting the Gandhian.
He said violence occurs only in rallies of political parties not in the campaign of Hazare. ‘This only shows the government will have to bow before the demands of the people,’ he said.
Former Law Minister and Hazare associate Shanti Bhushan said the decision to allow Hazare to fast for 15 days showed that his demands were reasonable and that the government should bring in a new Lokpal Bill after consulting the Gandhian.
Provisions of Lokpal Bill
He claimed the provisions of the Lokpal Bill put forward by the Hazare team were ‘totally’ Constitutional. ‘I can certify that they are Constitutional and I think it would be wise for the government to withdraw the (present) bill from Parliament and move a fresh bill after talking to Anna.’
Meanwhile, Hazare's supporters gathered outside Tihar Jail to greet the news of government agreeing to the demands of the Gandhian.
As supporters started pouring in chanting anticorruption slogans, about 250 Delhi police personnel were deployed to provide security around Tihar, while another 200 men in uniform were kept on standby.
Bomb disposal teams and dog squads conducted a surprise check outside Tihar Jail, soon after the Anna Hazare team announced that the Gandhian would move out of the prison to launch his anti-corruption protest at Ramlila Maidan.
The teams descended outside the jail, where Hazare supporters were camping to express solidarity with the social activist, at around 0330 and conducted a thorough check and sanitized the area.

No comments: