This Article is From Jul 29, 2011

Delhi police says Anna can't fast at Jantar Mantar

New Delhi: Social activist Anna Hazare has declared his intention to fast on August 16, in opposition  to what he calls the government's watered down version of the Lokpal Bill. But Hazare and his team have encountered another obstacle: the Delhi police.

In a meeting earlier today, Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Delhi police decided that Mr Hazare can fast, if he wants to, on the outskirts of the national capital, rather than at Jantar Mantar. Jantar Mantar was the place where Mr Hazare mobilized people - with his fast in April this year - to join his crusade against corruption.         

The police  have also imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in areas around the Parliament.

Anna Hazare and his team expressed outrage at the administration's move. According to Mr Arvind Kejriwal, RTI activist, and member of Team Anna, the move to impose Section 144 is "unconstitutional." Mr Hazare has added that he will meet a Supreme Court judge to get permission to fast at Jantar Mantar. "We will send an application to the Supreme Court about how the common man is being silenced," he said.

After the outrage expressed by Team Anna, the police issued a statement saying it was normal protocol to impose Section 144 in areas around the Parliament when there is a session going on. They say this has been done out of concern about the size of the expected gathering.

With the police reluctant to let Anna use Jantar Mantar to stage his fast,  the issue has become a political hotcake. BJP spokesperson J P Nadda said , "When Anna Hazare wants to start a campaign against corruption, Congress wants to suppress the movement." Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh denied the oppostion's charges and retorted, "It is the administration's prerogative to take these decisions."

Though police and civil society members are still in talks for a solution, this issue just adds to one of the many problems the government has to deal with. And with the Lokpal Bill expected to be tabled in the monsoon session starting next week, this issue is not likely to die down anytime soon.