New Delhi: A defiant Anna Hazare reiterated on Monday that no matter what, his proposed fast for a strong Jan Lokpal Bill would begin from August 16 at Jai Prakash Narain Memorial Park and would continue till the bill was passed by Parliament, even as Delhi police imposed prohibitory orders on the venue.
Addressing a packed media conference at Constitutional Club, Hazare said he will court arrest if the police does not allow him to reach the venue of his fast.
"We will go to JP Park tomorrow (Tuesday) for our fast. I have learnt that Section 144 (prohibiting gathering of five or more people) has been imposed. If they (police) refuse to allow us to proceed, we will sit there only. We are ready to go to jail. I appeal to people all over the country that when we go to jail, people in villages should also go to jail", Hazare said addressing a 30-minute-long press conference that came to an end to coincide with his "lights-off" call throughout the country from 8 pm.
He said once he is arrested, people should fill up the jails in every village across the country. "Going to jail for the country is no crime...It is a decoration", he said.
“The fight against corruption will continue. It is going to be a long battle ahead”, Hazare said.
The Delhi Police on Monday night imposed Section 144 - that bans the gathering of five or more people - at Jai Prakash Narain Memorial Park.
Speaking to Zee News, Special Commissioner of Police, Dharmendra Prakash said that Section 144 will be imposed in the area surrounding the park and that no one would be allowed to enter the venue. He categorically stated that Hazare could be arrested if he tries to enter the park.
Union Home Secretary RK Singh reviewed the situation with Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta and other top officials at the police headquarters.
Earlier in the day, the Delhi Police rejected an undertaking submitted by team Anna to sit on fast on Tuesday at Jai Prakash Narain Memorial Park in central Delhi.
The permission to sit on fast at the park was denied after the civil society group agreed to accept only 16 of the total 22 conditions set by the Delhi Police.
Earlier in the day, while addressing the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of the country’s 65th Independence Day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had questioned the proposed fast by Anna Hazare on Lokpal issue. The PM slammed Hazare for resorting to fast as a protest when Parliament was seized of the Lokpal Bill. Hazare accused the Prime Minister of "speaking" the language of his ministerial colleague Kapil Sibal saying that the Lokpal Bill was before Parliament which will take the call.
On the day when India attained independence, Anna on an emotional note asked the citizens to ponder on the kind of “freedom they had achieved”. He also said that even if the Jan Lokpal Bill was passed, “the fight for change would continue”.
Facing criticism for not believing in the parliamentary process, Anna clarified that he had “faith in the Parliament” but not the members of Parliament. He said that at least the “right bill should have been placed before Parliament”. He dismissed the charges saying that “UPAs democracy excuse was lame” and accused the government of going back on their words after giving assurance that a strong Lokpal Bill would be placed before the Parliament.
Anna lamented that “even after 64 years of independence, corruption, loot and goondaism” was rampant in the country. Hazare reminded people of the way farmers were fired upon in Pune recently, saying that this was not freedom in any way, repeating that “we did not get real freedom”.
The anti-corruption crusader highlighted the plight of the tribal’s in the country and pointed out that people from villages had to migrate to the city in search of livelihood, saying that this was not development in the real sense of the word.
Anna accused the government of being intoxicated with power and said that they had no clue as to in which direction the country was going. He categorically stated that the ministers were lusting after money.
On the issue of those who questioned whether corruption would be eliminated if Jan Lokpal Bill was passed, Anna Hazare vehemently said that he was sure that, "a strong bill would result in the eradication of 60 to 65 percent of corruption in the country". On a lighter note he said that if this did not happen then he would fill water in the house of Union Minister Kapil Sibal for the rest of his life.
Anna assured everyone that his team’s intention was “not to destabilise the government” because that was not the solution he was looking for. He said that the panacea was in “changing the system”. But at the same time he said that if the present government did not pay heed to the mood of the people and that if in his fight against corruption the government fell, then he would not be too much bothered.
On a sad note, Anna wondered what would happen to “the sacrifices made those who fought for the country”. And he also said that the “people’s support was his real strength”.
Before his press conference, the 73-year old Gandhian made an unscheduled visit to Rajghat. In a symbolic move Hazare meditated sitting close to Bapu’s samadhi at Rajghat for nearly three hours, taking cops by surprise and leaving them in a tizzy. In Rajghat, Anna was accompanied by a sea of supporters.