Jharkhand police detained economist Dreze, released

Jharkhand police today detained well known Indian economist of Belgian origin Jean Dreze and two of his companions, Vivek and Anuj and released them after few hours at Vishnupura police station in Garhwa. They were asked to sign a bond and declare that they had no complaints against the Government. But they refused to sign any bond or give anything in writing.

Dreze and his companions were picked up and taken to the police station for allegedly not obtaining permission from the police for a meeting of villagers on ‘Right to Food’. People close to Dreze claimed that permission had been sought but no information was given to them whether the permission had been denied.

In fact, the team did participate in a meeting of villagers last night and were to attend another meeting today.As the news of the economist’s arrest spread, Twitter erupted with outrage.

Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav said he was shocked beyond words. He tweeted stating “Jean Dreze is a saint-economist, a potential Nobel awardee who lived in slums, written and done more for the poor than any economist, shunned all power and glory, took up Indian citizenship, is a pacifist. Nothing can be more shameful than arresting him”

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashanth Bhushan deplored “Renowned economist& Co-author of several books with Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, Jean Dreze is arrested with 2 other activists in Jharkhand for organizing a meeting on Right to Food! This while goons who beat up Muslim family in Gurgaon roam free& PM tomtoms 2012 DRDO achievement!”, he tweeted.

The police also tried to confiscate the economist’s mobile phone and for some time he was not allowed to use it. They were told that they would have to apply for bail and that the administration would be filing an FIR naming the three. They were also advised to look for bailors. With public pressure building up, the police station was apparently asked to release the three activists.

Dreze, now an Indian citizen, had arrived in India in 1979 as a 20-year old and obtained his Ph.D. from Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi. He has authored several books on development economics and co-authored books with Amartya Sen. He is currently a Professor of Economics in Ranchi University.

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