New Delhi: In a late night breakthrough in the deadlock between Anna Hazare and Delhi Police over the duration of his anti-corruption protest, the Gandhian accepted the offer for 14 days of hunger strike beginning on Thursday at the Ramlila Maidan.
Confirming the development, key Team Anna member Arvind Kejariwal said, “Anna Hazare has accepted the offer made before him by Delhi Police to go on fast for 15 days without any pre-conditions. We have been assured of full co-operation by the authorities. The senior officials of Delhi Police have assured as an extension of another 15 days Delhi if required.”
Giving details about Anna Hazare’s health, Kejariwal told reporters outside Tihar, “Anna ji is fine. He is in a good health. He has been examined by a team of doctors from the jail and they certified that he is in a good shape.”
However, he added, “Anna will undergo a medical test in Tihar jail today before he sets out for Ramlila Maidan where he will launch his protest for a strong Lokpal. The anti-corruption crusader will be examined by doctors from the jail, doctors from a government hospital and those from Naresh Trehan`s Vedanta Medicity.”
When asked as to when Anna Hazare will set out for Ramlila Maidan, Kejariwal said, “As of now it is difficult for us to tell when will Anna reach the Ramlila Ground. I have been told that MCD officials are preparing the ground for Anna’s proposed agitation and senior officials are supervising the work. Ramlila Ground is not in position to accommodate a large number of his supporters at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Delhi Police today gave, in writing, its permission to Anna Hazare to go on fast without any restrictions.
Earlier, Hazare`s aide Kiran Bedi also tweeted, “Anna has accepted the DP (Delhi Police) permission for two weeks (of fast). Anna now shall be at the Ramlila Ground post 3 PM."
The breakthrough came after a nearly 30-minute meeting Hazare aides Bedi, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia and Arvind Kejriwal had with Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta at the latter`s residence in Chanakyapuri shortly after midnight.
Bedi said the Police Commissioner offered permission for 14 days of protest by 74-year-old Hazare at the Ramlila Ground, after which she, along with Bhushan, Sisodia and Kejriwal went back to the Tihar Jail, where the social activist has been staying put ever since her arrest and release on Tuesday, to apprise him of the offer.
Later, Bedi said on the micro-blogging site that Delhi Police "removed the unacceptable conditions and offered 15 days permission. Anna accepted there".
An announcement to this effect was also made by an associate of Hazare outside the Tihar jail, which was greeted with lusty cheers by hundreds of supporters by the Gandhian.
"Anna has won. We will get Jan Lokpal Bill", one of the protesters said.
The Anna team met the Delhi Police Commissioner in a fresh initiative to end the stalemate over the duration for the Gandhian`s protest for a strong Lokpal during which police offered two weeks permission for the hunger strike.
While Delhi Police had climbed down and dropped almost all the conditions it had sought to impose on Hazare`s protest, the only sticking point between the two sides has been the duration of the hunger strike.
"We met the Police Commissioner to help resolve the timeframe", Bedi said.
Kejriwal, who was staying with Hazare at Tihar even after his release from custody, Bhushan, Bedi and Sisodia drove from the prison, where they were holding a series of meetings with Hazare, to meet the police officials.
Police, which had on Tuesday arrested Hazare and his aides on apprehension of breach of peace and foiled his agitation plans, on Wednesday climbed down and dropped most of the conditions including the limit on the number of protesters who can gather at the venue.
In fact, police also offered Ramlila Maidan, a bigger venue than the JP Park which was originally preferred by Hazare, for the protest.
Earlier in the day, Hazare escalated his battle of attrition with the government refusing to come out of Tihar Jail notwithstanding Delhi Police`s climb down on the various conditions it had imposed on his indefinite fast in support of a strong Lokpal.
The Gandhian spent a second night in the Tihar jail complex as hectic negotiations had continued between Team Anna and police.
The hard bargaining came on a day when government came under renewed attack in Parliament over Hazare`s arrest and rallies in support of the Gandhian continued across the country, including a huge procession from India Gate to Parliament House.
On a day of now-on and now-off announcements, social activists Swami Agnivesh and Medha Patkar told cheering crowd of supporters in the morning that Hazare would come out of the jail anytime and they should be prepared to go to JP Park in a peaceful manner.
However, Hazare, who continued his fast for the second day, seemed to have had other plans when he called Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and Manish Sisodia and discussed the strategy.
Bedi came out and announced to the crowds that consultations were on and that Hazare was not coming out anytime soon.
With PTI Inputs