Govt backs off, Anna Hazare to fast at Ramlila Maidan

The Delhi Police on Wednesday buckled under people pressure and agreed to most of Team Anna’s demands and agreed to allow Anna Hazare, the anti-corruption crusader, to carry on his fast as long as he wants to.

Instead of its earlier stand of setting the cap on number of people, the police said that the number of people should correspondent to the capacity of the Ramlila Maidan, which can hold approximately 25,000 people. Hazare and his supporters will have to renew permission from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to extend his fast.

Similarly the Delhi Police has also agreed to allow parking of vehicles till the parking is full rather than limiting the number of cars and two-wheelers to be parked.

The police have also allowed one Team Anna doctor along with one government doctor at the site.

However, the Delhi Police has said that the use of loud speakers will be allowed as per the Supreme Court guidelines.

Delhi Police sources said they are yet to receive a communication from Hazare’s team.

Earlier, Hazare supporter Manish Sisodia had said that the Government has agreed to allow the use of Ramlila Maidan for the fast for seven days. But Hazare was adamant on continuing his protest for as long as he wants to and was insisting on his unconditional release.

“Anna wants a written approval for the venue. We want a new venue. Ramlila Maidan is the venue which the Government has agreed to. The discussions are on and we want it for one month. Anna will continue his fast,” said Sisodia.

The restrictions on the crowd and vehicles are likely to be removed since Ramlila Maidan is a much larger ground.

DCP Crime Ashok Chand is believed to be negotiating with Team Anna inside the Tihar Jail.

Top aides of Anna Hazare – Kiran Bedi, Medha Patkar, Swami Agnivesh, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia and Akhil Gogoi – are with him inside Tihar Jail.

Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar is also a part of the negotiation process underway inside the Tihar Jail. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev was denied permission to enter the jail premises to meet Anna Hazare.

Earlier, sources told CNN-IBN that the government is engaging in back channel talks with Team Anna. The Congress core group met on Wednesday morning over the Anna issue. The Prime Minister, AK Antony, P Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee and Ahmed Patel attended the meeting.

“We will find a way out of this impasse,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have said. The Prime Minister also made a statement in Parliament on Wednesday on the crackdown on Team Anna on Tuesday.