Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Defiance of police order by Anna Hazare

Defiance of police order by Anna Hazare not acceptable: Govt-In a clear indication of change in strategy in tackling Anna Hazare's protest over Lokpal Bill, govt today refrained from making any personal attack on the activist but justified his arrest saying defiance of police order was not acceptable in democracy. "This is not a pleasant task and none of us is happy trying to explain the circumstances under which certain events have taken place. It is a painful duty and we are performing it with the seriousness it deserves," Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters.At the same time, he strongly defended Hazare's arrest saying the action was taken by the Delhi Police after it came to a conclusion that he and his supporters would commit a "cognisable offence" by defying prohibitory orders.
Addressing the media along with HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and I&B Minister Ambika Soni, Chidambaram said that the government did make an effort to reach out to him yesterday but the meeting did not materialise."Yesterday, there was an attempt to meet Hazare, but that was not possible".
This morning police officer met Hazare and drew his attention to his statements that he and his supporters would defy the orders and asked him what his intentions were."Hazare said he was proceeding to Jaiprakash Narain Park to defy the orders. At that time, police came to the conclusion that he and his supporters would commit a cognisable offence and there could be likely breach of peace and they decided to take action under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC," he said
The Union Ministers, while disagreeing with Hazare's method for bringing the Lokpal Bill, made it clear that they shared the activist's concern on corruption.
"We are on Anna's side and Anna is on our side (as far as fight against corruption is concerned)," Sibal said adding that the disagreement was over Team Anna's insistence on accepting their Bill or no other Bill.Chidambaram also admitted that there was "great deal of angst and anger" among people on corruption and termed the Lokpal as "not a panacea but one of the answers" to deal with the menace.The change in strategy appears after Rahul Gandhi's meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday which was followed up with discussions with UPA troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee and Chidambaram in Parliament today.
In a marked difference from the earlier attack on Hazare by the party, Soni said the activist was a "reputed person" and the government trusted his word on protest being peaceful.She, however, said that no one can guarantee that there cannot be any problem when such large number of people gather at place as people seated on a dias do not have control on each and every person participating in an agitation.While making no personal attack on Hazare, Soni said he may have been ill-advised by his colleagues former IPS officer Kiran Bedi and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan "who understand law".
Sibal also pointed out towards media reports that Bedi was accompanied by two BJP leaders when she was stopped by the police at Raj Ghat.Replying to a volley of questions, Sibal said "right to protest is a Constitutional right and no government can be against it."
He, however, added that while there were Constitutional rights on one hand, on the other there is Constitutional responsibility.
Echoing similar views, Chidambaram said the UPA government was not against peaceful democratic protests."They are part of the Constitutional rights of the citizen. We acknowledge that right and respect that right. But that right must be exercised under certain reasonable conditions," he said.
Chidambaram also said that the government has no problem if Hazare wants his version of the Lokpal Bill but added that other civil society activists like Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander and Nikhil Dey have also talked to the government on the issue.

He insisted that the only way a law can be made in this country is by making it in Parliament.
"But if laws are not to be made by Parliament but by some social activists in a maidan, however well meaning they are, outside Parliament, then it is beyond my comprehension," he said.
"If laws are to be made by Parliament, government has done everything possible to facilitate the making of that law. We are on record saying, we will make every endeavour to get that bill out of the standing committee as early as possible and pass it in Parliament as early as possible. We have done nothing to impede the progress of the Bill," Chidambaram said.

Sibal said that the Chairman of a Parliamentary standing committee examining the Lokpal bill had invited Team Anna for another round of discussions.

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