Garhwa police book two food activists, spare Jean Dreze
On Thursday, the Garhwa police had detained Dreze, Gupta and Kumar for organising a public meeting allegedly without permission. They were, however, freed after two hours of interrogation.Updated: Mar 30, 2019 18:55 IST
The police has booked two food right activists for organising a public meeting without permission at Bishunpura in Garhwa district but has spared economist Jean Dreze, police said on Saturday.
The Belgian-born development economist Dreze, however, termed it deliberate and arbitrary. The cases were lodged under Sections 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Panel Code (IPC), against DEHAN group, an NGO spearheading the Right to Food campaign in Garhwa, president Vivek Kumar Gupta and secretary Anuj Kumar.
On Thursday, the Garhwa police had detained Dreze, Gupta and Kumar for organising a public meeting allegedly without permission. They were, however, freed after two hours of interrogation. The food activists had gone for a public meeting at Bishunpura village in Jharkhand’s Garhwa district to discuss issues related to subsidised food, pension scheme and MGNREGA with the villagers.
Bishunpura police station in-charge Vijay Kumar Singh said, “An FIR has been filed against Vivek Gupta, Anuj Kumar and four other unknown persons. Dreze has been excluded as he had no role in the programme. He was invited by the organisers. It was the organisers’ responsibility to inform about him, which they did not.”
He said permission for any programme with a detailed list of speakers was required when the model code of conduct was in place. “There was no permission for the programme. Besides, the organisers did not provide any detail of speakers,” Singh said, adding, they were investigating the matter to take further action.
Reacting to the development, Dreze, who was a member of the National Advisory Council (NAC) under in the UPA regime, said, “We were accused of violating the model code of conduct that day. This makes no sense because the code applies only to political parties. Now, my colleagues are accused of violating Section 144. But, there was no mention of Section 144 that day whether by the police or deputy commissioner. No one seems to be clear where it applies.”
He said arbitrary powers were being used to stifle fundamental rights of assembly and expression.
DEHAN president Gupta said, “We had sought permission for the programme from the local district administration around 10 days ago but received neither a denial nor a go-ahead. I feel the programme was aborted deliberately to suppress the voice of the people during the time of election.”
First Published: Mar 30, 2019 18:55 IST