12 pm: Anna comes out of Tihar

Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare came out of Tihar Jail on Friday to launch a fortnight-long protest demanding a strong Lokpal bill declaring that the fight against graft will continue whether he was "alive or not".

Looking fit on his fourth day of fast, the 73-year old Gandhian came out of the jail premises and made a brief address to the waiting supporters that the "second freedom struggle" has started.

"We got freedom in 1947. Now the second freedom struggle has begun on August 16. A revolution has started. The fight against corruption will continue whether I am alive or not," he said as the hundreds of supporters waiting for him since early morning cheered and clapped.

Escorted by police officials, Hazare came out and mounted a small podium erected just outside one of the gates of the prison that was his home for over 67 hours. He had refused to come out of the jail on Tuesday despite government ordering his unconditional release after his arrest in the morning to foil his indefinite hunger strike.

In the short speech, he declared that his campaign was aimed at making the country corruption-free.

Before getting on to a mini-truck heading a procession for a short distance, he appealed to his supporters not to indulge in violence or damage public property.

Flanked by his aides Arvind Kejriwal and Suresh Pathare, the Gandhian also invited them to join his protest that he would begin from the historic Ramlila grounds.

Greeted by rains, the procession made a slow progress as Anna waved to his supporters on his way towards Rajghat where he will pay obeisance to Mahatma Gandhi before proceeding to Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate.

15-day fast may go beyond the period: Kejriwal

Team Anna Hazare on Friday said the 15-day fast for a strong Lokpal Bill may go beyond the period depending upon the government's response to the agitation.

Hazare's associate and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said the 73-year-old Gandhian was actually planning a longer programme for the protest fast but there was a legal problem.

Delhi Police offered 21 days and later the two sides agreed on 15 days but that can be reviewed and the protest can be prolonged depending on what the government does on the demands put forward by Hazare, he said.

Hazare, who began his fast on August 16, has been demanding acceptance by the government of the Janlokpal Bill that would bring within its ambit the Prime Minister, higher judiciary and the conduct of MPs within Parliament besides other provisions.

3PM: Hazare at Rajghat

Anna Hazare on Friday visited Rajghat to pay respects to Mahatma Gandhi ahead of his protest fast at Ramlila Maidan.
Escorted by police and accompanied by a large number of people, Hazare reached the memorial from the back entrance at around 1:45 pm and remained there for about 20 minutes.

He came to Rajghat straight from Tihar Jail where he spent the past over 67 hours fasting.

Hazare bowed before the memorial after removing his Gandhi cap and shawl and paid floral tributes.

Delhi Police personnel deployed at Rajghat were seen asking the crowd gathered at the spot to take out the 'sticks' on which they were carrying the national flag.

The supporters, however, happily agreed to the police directive and carried the flags in their hands.

The police personnel even did not allow small pieces of wood on which slogans were written.

Anna skips India Gate

Over 300 Anna Hazare supporters who had gathered at the India Gate in anticipation of his visit were left disappointed and drenched in rain as the anti-corruption crusader failed to turn up.

Soon after his associate Kiran Bedi made the announcement that Hazare will visit India Gate before heading off to Ramlila Ground, his supporters had started assembling at the site.

As the numbers swelled, patriotic slogans filled the air. Many swayed the national flags and even foreigners visiting the site seemed to have enjoyed the sight as most were busy clicking pictures.

Even the rains could not dampen the enthusiasm of the Anna supporters. Many had brought their umbrellas along and some policemen were seen sharing space with the demonstrators under it.

However, as the news came in that Hazare will not visit the India Gate, disappointment was visibly seen on many faces.

Hazare: fit and fast!

The virtual sprint that Anna Hazare made on Friday at the Rajghat, with the policemen trying to catch up, has surprised many but not the fellow villagers from his native Ralegan-Siddhi near here.

On the fourth day of his fast, the 73-year-old Gandhian looked fighting fit as he ran a short distance at Rajghat to escape rain, though he said he had lost three kg since Tuesday. He came out of Tihar jail this morning after reaching an agreement with the government over the duration of the hunger-strike.

The ex-serviceman follows an exercise regime which includes a yoga every morning and a work-out with exercise bike.

Not only is he keen on being fit himself but he insists that young boys in Ralegan too cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

Fasting is evidently his favourite weapon for taking on the corrupt and the government but even otherwise his diet is frugal.

He takes only one meal a day while a fruit at bedtime makes up his dinner.