Lodged in an undisclosed location in Tihar
New Delhi: The police today arrested social activist Anna Hazare for flouting government orders to come out of arrest here at the Tihar Jail, where he had defiantly lodged himself since yesterday, and where he will be have to be forcibly lodged following his latest arrest.
On a day of rapidly-unfolding events, the Delhi police took into custody the already in custody septuagenarian, saying that ‘defying authorities to come out of jail is a serious, cognisable offence for which there is only one punishment in the books, which is jailing’.
Faced with his intransigence to remain in the jail, the Delhi Police originally detained Anna Hazare in an undisclosed location at Tihar jail. But later, they formally arrested him and lodged in the jail room where he was already lodged.
Home Minister P Chidambaram, in a hurriedly convened press conference, said ‘the government has now lodged him prison only because his continuance in the prison had the potential to imperil the peace and tranquility of law-abiding convicts there’.
‘If he has a fundamental right to protest, as the government, which ensures that fundamental rights remain rightfully fundamental, we too have a right to protest against his protest,’ the Harvard-educated Chidambaram said.
Meanwhile, the Congress party spokesperson Manish Tewari told newsmen that Anna Hazare had no moral right to court arrest. ‘He cannot do it himself. We can do it better than him,’ he said and added ‘the Congress party doesn’t need lessons from a jailed person on how to be jailed’.
Elsewhere, a group of intellectuals and a clutch of Think-Tanks hit out at Anna Hazare and his supporters for subverting established institutions like prisons. ‘Getting arrested and remaining incarcerated is not a Constitutionally enshrined Right,’ a said a press release form a policy research group.
‘In a constitutional democracy, there cannot be, and should not be, any short cuts to getting convicted and getting lodged in jails duly created by the judicial framework,’ they said.
‘Getting arrested when already under arrest creates a parallel judicial process which doesn’t augur well for the well-being of a vibrant democracy’, an intellectual of a Think-Tank said and asked ‘does Anna Hazare have the people’s mandate for getting arrested? Has he fought any election on that plank?’
The intellectual helpfully pointed out that only a sturdy political-electoral democracy could help throw up a Constitutionally-backed accused like A Raja and Suresh Kalmadi, who have earned their right to remain in prisons.
Meanwhile, Anna Hazare, who is believed to be on a fast already, is expected to further intensify his fast in view of the latest developments. ‘He will be now on a double fast simultaneously against the twin high-handedness of the government,’ said his supporters.
In a sterling and symbolic show of moral solidarity to the double fast, it is learnt, the spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar has decided to add another ‘Sri Sri’ to his name. But the new ‘Sri Sri’ will be appended to the rear of his name. Henceforth, he will be called: Sri Sri Ravishankar Sri Sri’.
‘A double fast deserves a double backing from all sides. Ergo, the Sri Sri after my existing name’, the spiritual guru said and added ‘if in the future, Anna Hazare undertakes any more fasts I may possibly add Sri Sri atop my name, too’.
Elsewhere outside the Tihar jail, there has been a further groundswell of support for Anna Hazare and his team. At the Delhi’s iconic India Gate, common people, cutting across social and cultural divide, joined hands together to pose for the TV cameras.
‘We have turned up in large numbers in a show of solidarity for Anna Hazare’s right to remain in the prison and the government’s repressive move to arrest an already arrested man and continue to inhumanly languish him in a harsh jail,’ said Pratap Dwivedi.
Another protestor, Gitanjali Ghosh, who was carrying her 2-year-old son with her, said ‘corruption hits at the very core of the country. Even private sector and educational institutions are indulging in it. We need to root out this evil immediately so that I can enroll my son in a school without paying any bribe next year’.
On the political front, the BJP criticised the government for arresting Anna Hazare in the first place and then not allowing him remain arrested in the second place.
(Disclaimer: We understand your outrage)
(Disclaimer 2: Written before Anna decided to come out)