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Minister condemns economist Jean Drèze’s detention

Drèze, who has been a member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, told the Hindustan Times over the phone that he and his associates were about to hold a public meeting on the issues of ration, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and pension in the village

ranchi Updated: Mar 28, 2019 23:32 IST
Sanjoy Dey
Sanjoy Dey
Ranchi
minister,economist,jean dreze
Jharkhand food and public distribution minister, Saryu Rai, condemned his state’s police for detaining economist-activist Jean Drèze and his associates for two hours and forcing them to abort a public programme in Bishunpura in Jharkhand’s Garhwa district on Thursday. (Photo by Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)(Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)

Jharkhand food and public distribution minister, Saryu Rai, condemned his state’s police for detaining economist-activist Jean Drèze and his associates for two hours and forcing them to abort a public programme in Bishunpura in Jharkhand’s Garhwa district on Thursday, citing a lack of permission and a “violation of the Model Code of Conduct”.

“The MCC doesn’t apply to persons like Drèze, even if he criticizes the government,” Rai said, adding that the state government as well as the election commission should take appropriate action against police.

“I personally respect the man. He is a grass roots worker. He has been struggling to provide food to those still deprived of it. He has helped the food and public distribution department of Jharkhand in improving the implementation of the food security scheme,” the minister said of the Belgian-born Indian economist Drèze, who has been spearheading the Right for Food campaign in Jharkhand, a state ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the most part since 2000.

Drèze, who has been a member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, told the Hindustan Times over the phone that he and his associates were about to hold a public meeting on the issues of ration, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and pension in the village located about 220 kilometers northwest of state capital Ranchi.

“As the programme was about to begin, the police picked me up, along with my two associates Vivek Gupta and Anuj Kumar, saying we didn’t have permission to hold it,” Drèze said.

Bishunpura police station in-charge,Vijay Kumar Singh, said, “We were informed that the programme was being held in violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), as it had no permission from the sub-divisional magistrate.”

First Published: Mar 28, 2019 23:32 IST