New Delhi: The standoff in Tihar Jail likely to be over with Anna Hazare set to come out of the prison after a night-long protest demanding that he be allowed to launch his indefinite strike from a venue of his choice in the capital.
Hazare, who was ordered to be released on Tuesday night after a day-long detention before he was to begin his fast demanding strong Lokpal, had refused to come out of the prison unless he was allowed to protest from JP Park without conditions.
Activists Kiran Bedi and Swami Agnivesh announced to the hundreds of supporters waiting since last night that the 73-year-old Gandhian was about to come out of the prison anytime now.
“The government has bowed down. We will have to be prepared to go to JP Park in a peaceful manner,” Agnivesh said.
RTI activist Akhil Gogoi said government has given enough indications to Hazare that he can launch his protest from the park without conditions.
However, lawyer Prashant Bhushan told reporters outside that “we have no no information or confirmation yet whether the government has conceded to the demands of Hazare that he will be allowed to sit on fast in JP Park without any conditions on the number of days”.
Over the last few days, Team Hazare had refused to give a written undertaking that he will end his protest within three days and restrict the number of protesters to 5,000.
Hazare and seven of his aides were picked up from an east Delhi apartment yesterday morning hours before he was to launch his protest fast at JP Park after Delhi Police failed to persuade him to give it up.
Police arrested him on the ground he was about to commit a cognisable offence but in a sudden turn of events government decided to release him after protests erupted across the country against its action.
Addressing the crowd outside Tihar jail, Bhushan, one of the close associates of Hazare, said “today’s protest represents the significance of people’s struggle not not just against corruption but a shot in the arm for democracy”.
Hazare continued his fast for the second consecutive day as the government was caught in a cleft as to how to deal with the embarrassing stand-off.
He spent the night in the administrative block of the jail along with his associate Arvind Kejriwal.
Hundreds of people continued their vigil outside the jail premises as Hazare made it clear that he would come out of the prison only if he is given permission to stage the indefinite fast.
Hazare’s aide Manish Sisodia, who came out of the jail last night, said though the Gandhian was given bail he did not agree to the terms and conditions imposed by authorities.
To a specific question, Sisodia said Anna has told the jail authorities that he will not leave the premises until the police tell him the status of his application for launching a hunger strike at the JP Park.
“He told them very clearly that he wants to sit and fast there with his followers. So this is the status and we are fasting here outside Tihar jail,” he said.
On reports that yoga guru Ramdev will also join the protest, he said, “I have no official confirmation but whoever wants to join they are welcome.”
When Hazare’s supporters shouted slogans against HRD minister Kapil Sibal, Sisodia said the Gandhian has given “strict instructions” not to raise any slogans against any person or party.