New Delhi, Aug 16: Anna Hazare and some of his close associates were today arrested and prevented from going ahead with their indefinite fast demanding a “strong” Lokpal in defiance of the prohibitory orders, an action that came under attack from political parties and triggered protests by supporters across the country.
The 73-year old Gandhian was picked up at 7.30 AM from a flat where he was staying in Mayur Vihar in East Delhi after he refused to be persuaded by the Delhi Police officials who urged him not to undertake the fast since it would be in violation of prohibitory orders that were imposed last night.
Hazare and his aides including, Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal, were first taken to the Delhi Police Officers' Mess in North Delhi and were shifted to another after Hazare's supporters gathered in a large numbers at the Civil Lines areas.
Nearly 1400 activists were detained in various parts of the city when they came out in support of Hazare, who had planned to launch the fast at J P park near Ferozeshah Kotla and Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta said they would be released after “some time”.
The social activist, who is campaigning for a legislation that will cover the Prime Minister, higher judiciary and MPs conduct within Parliament among other things, was later taken to Rajouri Garden police station in West Delhi where a Special Executive Magistrate remanded him to 7 days' judicial custody.
The decision to remand him came after Hazare refused to sign a personal bond undertaking that he will not defy the prohibitory orders and hold protests.
Hazare was taken to Jail No 4 in Tihar Central Prison where he will be lodged for the next seven days. His associates including, Kejriwal, Bedi and Manoj Sisodia, were lodged in Jail No 1. Noted lawyer Shanti Bhushan was also among those arrested.
Hundreds of supporters gathered outside Tihar jail after Hazare and his associates were taken inside the prison. Shortly after Hazare's arrest, his campaigner Prashant Bhushan announced a series of agitational programmes, including a march from India Gate to Parliament tomorrow evening and protest by supporters in Delhi streets.
He also called upon government employees to go on mass leave tomorrow to show solidarity with Hazare.
As Parliament was disrupted by opposition parties which attacked government saying Hazare's arrest amounted to “murder of democracy” and was a throw-back to the days of emergency, Home Minister P Chidambaram rejected the charge asserting that anyone saying he would defy prohibitory orders was unacceptable in a democracy.
Chidambaram said Hazare was arrested under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC because Delhi Police felt that he could commit a cognizable offence.
He said Lokpal was not a panacea for all the corruption taht existed in the country and government was taking a five-pronged action even after which corruption would still exist. It is a battle that would be fought on various fronts and no one can dictate that either “my bill or no bill”.
Noting that Delhi Police was ready to release Hazare on a personal bond if he would have given an undertaking that he will not defy prohibitory orders, Gupta said the Gandhian refused to do so. PTI