New Delhi: Permission has been given to Anna Hazare and his associates for his fast at Ramlila Maidan till September two and it is conditional, Home Secretary R K Singh said on Thursday.

He said the government was not involved in any discussion with Team Anna and it was the Delhi Police which held the talks and resolved the issue "amicably".

READ MORE: Anna fast: MCD cleans Ramlila Ground

IN PICS: VOICES FOR ANNA

"The Delhi Police discussed with Team Anna and, thereafter, they have come to a decision. What the Delhi Police conveyed to the Ministry of Home Affairs is that the permission was given till September two on the usual sort of conditions," he told reporters here.

Singh said it was not proper to say the agreement was a victory for one side and defeat for the other "but the basic issue was that permission for certain ground and certain period was given with some sort of conditions.

"If someone is saying that this is a victory or something, this is not the right way to say. This is not a question of victory or defeat," he said.

The Home Secretary said conditions of a particular ground mandated a certain size of crowd as well as of available parking.

Hazare to reach Ramlila Maidan on Friday

Anna Hazare will launch his protest at Ramlila Maidan on Friday as the venue is yet to get readied for the fast and will stay for one more night in Tihar Jail, activist Arvind Kejriwal said.

"I spoke to Annaji. In view of the conditions at Ramlila Maidan, Annaji will reach Ramlila Maidan on Friday," Kejriwal said.

Another Hazare associate Kiran Bedi said the Gandhian will not move out of Tihar Jail till he embarks on his journey to Ramlila Maidan to launch the protest.

Hazare reached an agreement with the government on Friday morning on the protest venue and the conditions.

As soon as Hazare announced that he would move to Ramlila, MCD which owns the ground deployed around 100 workers to clean the facility but the work was so  massive that they could not finish it by the afternoon as desired by the Gandhian's team.
Earlier, Bedi had said that Hazare will go to the Maidan after 3 pm on Thursday.

Hazare was lodged in Tihar Jail on Tuesday evening after he was detained for going ahead with his plans to defy prohibitory orders in J P Park here. However, he was released later but he refused to come out of the prison demanding that there should not be any restrictions on his protest.

After hard bargaining for two days, Hazare and government reached an agreement under which Delhi Police removed all restrictions and allowed him to carry out his hunger strike for 15 days in the spacious Ramlila Maidan.

The breakthrough came in the wee hours of the day after top aides of Hazare met Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta.

Hazare to continue fast till health permits: Bedi

Anna Hazare is on an indefinite hunger strike and not a fast-unto-death, his associate Kiran Bedi said on Thursday.

"As long as he can fast, he'll continue the fast. But the moment Dr Naresh Trehan's team is of the view that he needs medical attention, he will get medical attention because the object is that it is an indefinite fast and not a fast-unto- death," she said.

While indicating that there will be no confrontation with government over the issue of providing medical attention to the Gandhian, Bedi said they do not view the agreement over Hazare's agitation as a victory for one side and defeat for the other.

"He will fast as long as he can sustain it, he will fast as long as there is no threat to his life," she said, adding the protest by Hazare was not just a fast but also a dharna.

She said the issue was linked with Hazare's health and that was why government doctors and physicians of their choice -- a team of doctors monitored by Trehan -- will monitor his health.

"His health cannot be allowed to deteriorate," she said. Asked whether they saw the government climbdown as a victory of the civil society, she said, "It is all about finding a middle path. We heard them, they heard us and finally that was the way to begin."

Anna accepts offer for 14 days hunger strike

In a late night breakthrough in the deadlock between Anna Hazare and Delhi police over the duration of his anti-corruption protest, the Gandhian accepted the offer for 14 days of hunger strike beginning from Thursday at the Ramlila Maidan.

"Anna has accepted the DP (Delhi Police) permission for two weeks (of fast). Anna now shall be at the Ramlila Ground post 3 pm", Hazare's aide Kiran Bedi twitted.

The breakthrough came after a nearly 30-minute meeting Hazare aides Bedi, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia and Arvind Kejriwal had with Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta at the latter's residence in Chanakyapuri shortly after midnight.

Bedi said the Police Commissioner offered permission for 14 days of protest by 73-year-old Hazare at the Ramlila Ground, after which she, along with Bhushan, Sisodia and Kejriwal went back to the Tihar Jail, where the social activist has been staying put ever since her arrest and release, to apprise him of the offer.

Later, Bedi said on the micro-blogging site that Delhi Police "removed the unacceptable conditions and offered 15 days permission. Anna accepted there".

An announcement to this effect was also made by an associate of Hazare outside the Tihar jail, which was greeted with lusty cheers by hundreds of supporters by the Gandhian.

"Anna has won. We will get Jan Lokpal Bill", one of the protesters said.

While Delhi police had climbed down and dropped almost all the conditions it had sought to impose on Hazare's protest, the only sticking point between the two sides has been the duration of the hunger strike.

“We met the Police Commissioner to help resolve the timeframe", Bedi said.

Police, which had on Tuesday arrested Hazare and his aides on apprehension of breach of peace and foiled his agitation plans, climbed down and dropped most of the conditions including the limit on the number of protesters who can gather at the venue.

In fact, police also offered Ramlila Maidan, a bigger venue than the JP Park which was originally preferred by Hazare, for the protest.

Earlier in the day, Hazare escalated his battle of attrition with the government refusing to come out of Tihar Jail notwithstanding Delhi Police's climb down on the various conditions it had imposed on his indefinite fast in support of a strong Lokpal.

The Gandhian spent a second night in the Tihar jail complex as hectic negotiations had continued between Team Anna and police.

The hard bargaining came on a day when government came under renewed attack in the Parliament over Hazare's arrest and rallies in support of the Gandhian continued across the country, including a huge procession from India Gate to the Parliament House.

On a day of now-on and now-off announcements, social activists Swami Agnivesh and Medha Patkar told cheering crowd of supporters that Hazare would come out of the jail anytime and they should be prepared to go to JP Park in a peaceful manner.

However, Hazare, who continued his fast for the second day, seemed to have had other plans when he called Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and Manish Sisodia and discussed the strategy.

Bedi came out and announced to the crowds that consultations were on and that Hazare was not coming out anytime soon.

Then began the tough negotiations with Delhi Police officials who first agreed that Hazare can hold the protest fast for seven days after which the situation would be reviewed day after day.

The stand-off continued even as the government came under renewed attack in the Parliament from Opposition parties after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a statement in both the Houses.

Singh said Hazare was trying to impose his version of Lokpal Bill and his "totally misconceived path" was fraught with "dangerous consequences" for parliamentary democracy.     

Making similar points at the end of the debate on Prime Minister's statement in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the Hazare has "undoubted right" to protest "as long as he wants" but subject to certain conditions.

Good sense prevails on government: Bhushan

Expressing happiness at the turn of events, Former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan said the decision to allow Anna Hazare to fast for 14 days showed that his demands were reasonable and that the government should bring in a new Lokpal Bill after consulting the Gandhian.

"I am very happy that ultimately good sense has prevailed on the government and it has agreed to permit Anna to fast for 14 days and that shows Anna was never unreasonable in his demands," Bhushan said.

Bhushan, one of the close aides of Hazare in his fight for a strong Lokpal, was referring to the decision by the government to allow the Gandhian to hold his protest at Ramlila Maidan for 14 days without the conditions.

He claimed the provisions of the Lokpal Bill put forward by the Hazare team were "totally" Constitutional. "I can certify that they are Constitutional and I think it would be wise for the government to withdraw the (present) bill from the Parliament and move a fresh bill after talking to Anna."

He also said the whole country knows that Hazare has noted that if not 100 percent, 60-65 percent of corruption would be stopped through a strong Lokpal.

Euphoric scenes at Tihar Jail after Anna accepts offer

Euphoric scenes were witnessed outside Tihar Jail on Wednesday night as the news spread about Anna Hazare accepting the Delhi Police offer for 14 days of hunger strike beginning from Thursday at the Ramlila Maidan.

An announcement to this effect was also made by an associate of Hazare outside the Tihar jail, which was greeted with lusty cheers by scores of the Gandhian's supporters.

"Anna has won. We will get Jan Lokpal Bill," one of the protesters said.

Around 200 protesters who were waiting outside Tihar Jail erupted into thunderous applause and showered flower petals to celebrate the moment.

Minutes before the announcement, Hazare's associate Kiran Bedi tweeted that the Gandhian had accepted the Delhi Police offer.

S Kumar, a businessman, said, "I have brought 40 kg of rose petals to shower on Anna's supporters who have gathered here. It is their victory. We are all happy that Anna will come out on Thursday morning."

Aakash, who runs an NGO in Vikaspuri, said, "I have come here along with 50 supporters. I am fasting with Anna too and when he is released, I will distribute sweets."

"This is the victory of the people. We are all very happy that Anna will be allowed to move out. I will join him at Ramlila Maidan," said Manish Singh, a resident of Janakpuri.

Meanwhile, bomb disposal teams and dog squads conducted a surprise check outside Tihar Jail soon after the Anna Hazare team announced that the Gandhian would move out of the prison to launch his anti-corruption protest at Ramlila Maidan.

US blames inaccurate reporting for Hazare misunderstanding

Meanwhile, the US said it supports freedom of peaceful expression and non-violent protest everywhere in the world, but blamed "inaccurate reporting" in India for creating an impression that Washington had issued a strong statement on anti-graft protests there.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland refuted reports that the US had given any statement in direct support of Anna Hazare's movement that had prompted a strong reaction by India.

In fact, the Congress lashed out at Washington, with its spokesperson Rashid Alvi in New Delhi asking 'what was the need for the US to give such a statement?'

"There was some extremely inaccurate reporting out of India that the United States had issued some sort of strong statement, which we did not issue. The only statement about India to my knowledge was the one that we made from the podium here," State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters at her daily news conference.

Nuland was responding to questions about the statement by the Congress spokesman suggesting that the US was interfering in the internal affairs of the country.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not spoken to her Indian counterpart in the last couple of days. "Obviously, our embassy has been enunciating these same principles," she said.

"We support the principle of freedom of assembly, right of non-violent protest in democracies around the world and in countries around the world, the universal principle," Nuland said when asked if her comments were general in nature or specific to the movement of Anna Hazare.

(JPN/Agencies)