NEW DELHI, Aug 16 � Anna Hazare and his close associates were arrested today and lodged in Tihar Jail here after police foiled his plans to go on an indefinite fast, prompting strong denunciation by opposition parties and detention of thousands of his supporters across the country, reports PTI.
Delhi Police descended at the flat in an apartment enclave in east Delhi�s Mayur Vihar early in the morning and picked 73-year-old Hazare and seven aides, including Arvind Kejriwal, up at 7.30 am as they planned to violate prohibitory orders and go ahead with the fast demanding a �strong� Lokpal.
They were charged under Sections 107 and 151 of CrPC dealing with preventive arrest after police believed that they were about to commit cognizable crimes when they refused to heed to Delhi Police�s request not to go ahead with the protest as it would be in violation of prohibitory orders.
After some high-drama of shifting the arrested from a police officer�s mess to a police station, the Gandhian and his associates were remanded to judicial custody for seven days after they refused to give a personal bond that they would not violate prohibitory orders and hold protests.
Hazare along with his three supporters have been kept in new admission ward of Jail number four while Kejriwal, a former IRS officer, and three others have been kept in Jail number one.
Two other prominent activists Kiran Bedi and noted lawyer Shanti Bhushan, who were detained under Delhi Police Act for apprehension of breach of peace, were released in the evening.
More than 1,500 activists were detained in Delhi when they hit the streets in support of Hazare while in Mumbai, over 1,000 were held and hundreds of others in cities across the country.
Hazare, who is campaigning Lokpal that will cover Prime Minister, higher judiciary and MPs conduct inside Parliament among others, went on fast in the prison taking only water, sources close to him said.
Opposition parties closed ranks, disrupted both the Houses of Parliament, attacking the government action as �murder of democracy� and a throw-back to the days of emergency.
The BJP, Left parties and others met to demand a statement from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue when Parliament meets tomorrow.
Government fielded an array of ministers led by Home Minister P Chidambaram before the media and rejected the criticism of its action.
Chidambaram strongly defended the arrest saying the Delhi Police came to a conclusion that he and his supporters would commit a �cognisable offence� by defying prohibitory orders.
�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,� he told reporters.
Government was at its pains to say right to protest is a Constitutional right but it must be exercised under certain reasonable conditions.
Chidambaram said Lokpal is not a panacea for corruption but on of the answers to deal with the menace and government was against Hazare Team�s attitude of �my bill or no bill�.
Hazare and his aides were first taken to the Delhi Police Officers� Mess in North Delhi and were shifted to another after Hazare�s supporters gathered in a large numbers at the Civil Lines areas.
The social activist was later taken to Rajouri Garden police station in West Delhi where a Special Executive Magistrate remanded him to 7 days� judicial custody.
The decision to remand him came after Hazare refused to sign a personal bond undertaking that he will not defy the prohibitory orders and hold protests.
Hundreds of supporters gathered outside Tihar jail after Hazare and his associates were taken inside the prison.
Shortly after Hazare�s arrest, his campaigner Prashant Bhushan announced a series of agitational programmes, including a march from India Gate to Parliament tomorrow evening and protest by supporters in Delhi streets.
He also called upon government employees to go on mass leave tomorrow to show solidarity with Hazare. However, Chidambaram expressed the hope that government servants will not heed to the �wrong call� of mass leave given by Team Anna.
Noting that Delhi Police was ready to release Hazare on a personal bond if he gave an undertaking that he will not defy prohibitory orders, Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta said the Gandhian refused to do so.
He said they had initially suggested that Hazare hold his protest at Sadbhavana Park which has a capacity to accomodate around 15-20,000 people.
�According to our intelligence reports, 15-20,000 people were to gather for the protest and we suggested that he stage his protest there but Delhi High Court had banned any protest there. It was then that we suggested Jai Prakash Narain Park,� he said.