Updated: March 29, 2019 5:30:29 am
Economist and Right to Food activist Jean Dreze and two others were let off Thursday afternoon after being detained in Jharkhand for holding a public meeting without permission, which the authorities say is a “violation of Model Code of Conduct(MCC)”. The trio spent around two hours in Bishnupura Police Station in Garhwa District of Jharkhand.
After being released from detention, Dreze said neither the authorities gave them the permission nor did they reject it in the last 10 days. “It is very important to hold peaceful, non-political meetings during elections. Nowhere in MCC it is written we cannnot hold such meetings.”
Dreze pointed out the “double standards” of the Jharkhand Police stating there was a public meeting in the area last evening that the police took no action against it. “This is double standard. This is not newsworthy… the understanding of democracy is shrinking…Dheere Dheere saare azadiyon ko Kam Kiya jaa raha jai, aur mudda ye hai (The issue is that slowly and steadily freedom is being curbed).”
DIG Palamu Vipul Shukla said: “They were detained for MCC violation as they were holding a public meeting without SDO’s permission.”
Deputy Commissioner Garhwa Harsh Mangla said that Dreze and others had asked for a permission for holding the meeting, but it was rejected. “They were taken to the police station for some time and were let off. When MCC is in place, CrPC section 144 is is imposed which prohibits assembly of four or more people in a public place. They have asked for permission, but it was rejected. Now we will look into it why it was rejected and have asked the concerned person,” he said.
However, Right to Food Campaign activist Vivek Kumar, who along with John Dreze was part of the public meeting, said that they had given a request letter to the Officer Incharge of Bishnupura Police Station on March 18 and to the SDO on March 22 to hold a “Jan Sabha” on ration and pension, but did not get any response from them.
Reiterating Dreze’s reason, Kumar said, “It was not communicated to us that the permission was rejected. The officer Incharge of Bishnupura Police Station had taken a copy of my Aadhaar card and we got a receiving on our request letter. We had also sent a request letter to the SDO and got a receiving…Since my Aadhar card copy has been taken so we decided to hold the Jan Sabha.”
He added: “During our meeting Thursday, the police came around 10.45 am and took us to the station and told us they will charge us under various sections as we had violated model code of conduct. They had also asked us to sign a bond where it was supposedly mentioned that ‘we did not have any complain with the adminsitraton’. We refused to do so. However, we were let off after two hours.”
Calls made to DC and SP Garhwa Sivani Tewari on the permission sought and the “bond” being asked to sign, did not elicit any response.
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