Police refuses permission, Hazare to go ahead with fast

New Delhi: Setting the stage for a fresh showdown with the government, Anna Hazare and his supporters will go ahead with their protest at Jantar Mantar tomorrow despite Delhi Police refusing permission for their day-long fast.

A senior police official today said they have refused permission for the fast at the dharna hotspot while citing prohibitory orders at the site after the police action against Baba Ramdev in Ramlila Maidan on Sunday.

Sources said Delhi Police has already informed Hazare`s team about the refusal of permission.

Police had on Sunday imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in Jantar Mantar and other areas in New Delhi district following the midnight police action in Ramlila Maidan where Ramdev and his supporters were on an indefinite protest on black money and corruption issues.

However, activist Arvind Kejriwal said they will go ahead with the "very peaceful" protest and court arrest if police obstructed them. "No one can stop Anna Hazare from protesting at Jantar Mantar tomorrow," he said.

Shanti Bhushan, who wrote to Delhi Police on behalf of Hazare-led team seeking permission for the protest, said they were putting police on notice that they intend to go ahead with the fast and any attempt to prevent the people from reaching Jantar Mantar would be viewed as a serious violation of fundamental democratic rights of the people.

"This is not acceptable. We appeal to the people to be calm tomorrow when they come to Jantar Mantar. We will stop wherever police tries to stop us. After that few people can get arrested, others can go home," he said.

He said Hazare`s call was for a fast and this should not lead to a law and order situation.

Kejriwal said government ought to explain what law and order problem they apprehend due to the protest by Hazare.

"Anna is a 73-year-old man and has never provoked anyone. He never had a violent history. Now he says, he wants to assemble peacefully, what is the need of Section 144. If police tries to stop us we will not resist but just offer ourselves for being arrested," he said.

Alleging that government has arbitrarily imposed Section 144, Kejriwal said there have been Supreme Court orders stating that the section should not be misused.

Asked about seeking permission from police, he shot back, saying, "From whom should we seek permission. They are not our masters. People of this country are the masters.

Government is not our master, unfortunately they have started behaving like they are our masters."

He alleged that government`s attitude is that it has the "right to indulge in corruption and if anyone protests against them, they we will either crush them or impose Section 144 and not allow them to protest".

Justice Santosh Hegde, who is the Karnataka Lokayukta, said he will not join any fast or demonstration till he was holding a public post but noted that the move to impose Section 144 and denying permission to Hazare "indicates a weakness" on the part of the government.

"The actions of the government against Baba Ramdev shows they are scared of him," he alleged, adding he was not asking anybody to defy the law.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman said the police decision clearly shows that the government is neither prepared to engage with the civil society nor it is clear about the strategy with which it has to negotiate on issues which are confronting it.