NEW DELHI: Anna Hazare has started his day-long (10 am to 6 pm) token fast at Rajghat to protest against police crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his supporters during their agitation against corruption.
Thousands of supporters of Anna Hazare have gathered at the Rajghat to sit on fast with him. Also present at Rajghat are civil society members Swami Agnivesh, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi.
Delhi police have made elaborate security arrangements to ensure that the day-long protest passes off peacefully.
Hazare had announced to undertake the day-long hunger strike at Jantar Mantar. However, Anna Hazaare had to shift the venue to Rajghat since the Delhi police has imposed Section 144 —in parts of New Delhi including Jantar Mantar.
Rajan Bhagat, a spokesman for the Delhi police said that Delhi’s Rajghat area—the site of Mr. Hazare’s fast today—isn’t part of the area where protests are presently prohibited.
Civil rights activists contended that denial of permission to hold peaceful protest was against the basic Constitutional rights of citizens.
Supporters of Hazare had started gathering at Rajghat since morning.
A number of youths wearing Gandhi caps and elderly people were seen at the spot waving the tricolour amidst a heavy posse of security personnel.
A man dressed like Mahatma Gandhi was the centre of attraction as he sang Gandhi’s favourite bhajan ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’.
The Hazare-led protest will be accompanied by an all-religion prayer meeting and a debate on Lokpal Bill.
A senior Delhi police official said on Tuesday that they refused permission for the fast at Jantar Mantar due to prohibitory orders at the site after the police action against Baba Ramdev in Ramlila Maidan on Sunday.
Delhi police chief visited Rajghat early in the morning to review the security arrangements.
Meanwhile the Gandhian said that they had no intention to quit the joint panel. The civil society members had boycotted the meeting of Lokpal bill drafting committee on Monday. Another civil society representative on the panel Arvind Kejriwal said they will attend the next meeting on June 15.
Kejriwal accused Kapil Sibal of “putting words in their mouth by saying whether we come or not, they will go ahead with the drafting of the Lokpal Bill. He wondered why did that question arise when they had written to (Finance Minister) Pranab Mukherjee that we will not be attending June 6 meeting. Despite the five civil society members boycotting the meeting on Monday, the ministers went ahead and finalised some provisions of the proposed Lokpal Bill.
Later, Sibal took objection to the boycott of the meeting by civil society members and said that the committee would do its work “whether or not someone comes”.
(With inputs from PTI and NDTV)