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Economist Jean Dreze Released After Being Detained in Jharkhand for Public Meeting 'Without Police Permission'

File photo of renowned economist and academic Jean Dreze

File photo of renowned economist and academic Jean Dreze

Vivek Kumar, Anuj Kumar and Jean Dreze were held over permissions for the meeting. While the three had sought police consent, they were not informed if their request had been approved or denied.

Bishunpura(Garhwa): Jharkhand police on Thursday detained Jean Dreze and two other 'Right to Food' activists in Garhwa district’s Bishunpura, where the group was holding a Jan Sunwai (public grievance meeting) to resolve issues related to ration and pension pendencies.

Vivek Kumar, Anuj Kumar and Jean Dreze were held over permissions for the meeting. While the three had sought police consent, they were not informed if their request had been approved or denied.

“We had applied on March 22 to Pradeep Kumar, SDO, Garhwa District, for permission. Later they had asked us to provide details such as the Aadhaar card of the head organiser. We had furnished all that was asked for but were never intimated anything,” Vivek Kumar, who is currently in Garhwa police station, told News18.

Kumar also said when the Jan Sunwai began, the police stopped the meeting and took Jean Dreze and others into custody and also stated that they would charge the three under sections “Section 171, 172 and 173 of the Indian Penal Code”.

Section 171 punishes a person who wears a garb or carries token used by public servant with fraudulent intent, whereas section 172 defines punishment for the ones who avoid summons from being served upon them.

Kumar further told News18 that a meeting of a particular caste “was held at a religious place in Bishunpura without permission on March 27”, but there was no complaint against them.

According to the latest information from local sources, the trio was released after four hours of detention. However, fear of arrest still looms over them ahead of their next public meeting.

The Jan Sunwai was being held after the March 6 event, where under the leadership of CPI (ML), a one-day blockade was organized against “lootig of ration and land”. Addressing the rally, leader Sushma Mehta said that the coalition of politicians and administrative officials is continuing with ration and looting forces in the entire district.

He said that Jinka Bardeeha Dealer Mandev Paswan is continuously embezzling ration of the beneficiaries of the village. The victims complained to officials and the government, but no action was taken against them.

According to DC Garhwa District, the detention was because of Model Code of Conduct. "When MCC is in force, Section 144 is imposed for unlawful assembly and hence assembly of three and four is not allowed. This is why they were taken for questioning," he said.

Dreze is known for his activism on the right to food. The Belgian-born development economist co-authored Hunger and Public Action, which focused on the problem of hunger in the modern world. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was the other author of the book.

On March 14, several members of the civil society along with tribal rights activist Stan Swamy and Dreze came together under the banner of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha to put out a people’s manifesto.

Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha has demanded all the political parties contesting 2019 Lok Sabha polls to exhibit explicit commitment on the following people’s issues in their manifesto.

JJM has asked for the Land Acquisition Amendment Act 2018 (Jharkhand) and Land Bank policy be repealed. There should be no amendment, against the interest of Gram Sabha and people at large, should be made in land laws. Land taken over or identified under these policies should be immediately returned to the owners or the Gram Sabha.

first published:March 28, 2019, 13:13 IST