Hazare to start fast today; may go beyond 15 days

Hazare to start fast today; may go beyond 15 days

New Delhi: Team Anna Hazare today said the 15-day fast for a strong Lokpal Bill may go beyond the period depending upon the government’s response to the agitation.

Hazare’s associate and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said the 73-year-old Gandhian was actually planning a longer programme for the protest fast but there was a legal problem.

Delhi Police offered 21 days and later the two sides agreed on 15 days but that can be reviewed and the protest can be prolonged depending on what the government does on the demands put forward by Hazare, he said.

Hazare, who began his fast on 16 August, has been demanding acceptance by the government of the Janlokpal Bill that would bring within its ambit the Prime Minister, higher judiciary and the conduct of MPs within Parliament besides other provisions.

Kejriwal said Hazare’s health was fine and was not a matter of concern. He said Hazare will leave Tihar Jail at about 11:00 am for Ramlila Maidan.

Hazare, who has been in Tihar since 16 August, will go in a car to the Ramlila Maidan, he said.

“He should leave around 11 am," Kejriwal said.

Asked if statements coming out that Hazare’s fast in indefinite and not a fast unto death was a climbdown, Kejriwal said, “There is no climbdown. Anna Hazare never used the word fast unto death. It is an indefinite fast. Anna used the word indefinite because it is more spiritual. Fast unto death seems a little more in the connotation of blackmail."

He blamed the media for using the word fast unto death.

Replying to a questions about the possibility of certain organisations and individuals supporting the movement becoming violent, he said, “You have seen the movement so far remaining non-violent. This shows the spirituality of the entire movement."

Kejriwal said it is the responsibility of the administration to take precautions so that anti-social elements don’t penetrate the movement.

“If at all anything happens, I assure you that its not by the people, it will be by some people who try to create disturbance. Police need to keep a watch on that. We have told everyone that if you see someone doing that, please immediately ask the person to stop," he said.

Talking about the preparations on the ground, Kejriwal said no grand preparations are being planned and things will be set up as the fast goes.

Large number of persons have turned up at the jail to welcome the anti-corruption crusader’s release.

Though release orders for Hazare were issued soon after he reached Tihar, the Gandhian refused to come out unless allowed to hold his fast unconditionally.

Later, his team had reached an agreement with the government yesterday under which Delhi Police had removed all restrictions and allowed him to carry out his hunger strike for a fortnight in the spacious Ramlila Maidan here.

Police personnel have been deployed around the jail and even a helicopter has been pressed into service.

Kiran Bedi said the Delhi Police Commissioner has agreed to grant them further extension if asked for.

“There is no ban on number of days. All restrictive conditions have been removed. We have got an open permission to hold peaceful protest," Bedi told reporters outside the jail.