Freedom of Expression

Activists Protest in Ranchi After BJP Leaders Make Jean Drèze Stop Mid-Speech

At an event on Sunday, senior BJP leaders, including Union minister Radha Mohan Singh, began yelling at Drèze as he criticised the Jharkhand government, demanding that he be removed from the stage.

Activists protest at Ranchi's Raj Bhavan. Credit: Special arrangement

Activists protest at Ranchi’s Raj Bhavan. Credit: Special arrangement

New Delhi: Activists and academics gathered in Ranchi to protest on Monday (August 14) after BJP leaders on Sunday did not allow economics professor Jean Drèze to finish a lecture at an event organised by Prabhat Khabar. Drèze was talking about a recent ad campaign issued by the BJP-ruled Jharkhand government in several Hindi dailies, which misquoted Gandhi and targeted Christians religious institutions. Drèze said in printing those ads, the state government was misleading people and even inciting violence. He also brought up the increasing crime rates in Jharkhand, which he said the state government is doing nothing to curb.

In videos of the event, BJP leaders including Union minister Radha Mohan Singh, agriculture minister Randhir Singh and urban development minister C.P. Singhare are seen as getting up from their chairs and yelling at Drèze as he speaks, demanding that he be removed from the stage and apologise immediately. Organisers tried to bring the leaders under control, but the heckling and shouting continued, and the leaders refused to calm down.

Also read: Jharkhand Government Is Misusing Gandhi, Public Funds to Fuel Anti-Christian Hate

In their statement after the protest in Ranchi, activists Dayamani Barla, Stan Swami, Balram, P.P. Verma and others have stated that this incident is only the latest in a string of attacks against free speech by the ruling party:

“This incidence is yet another example of the growing intolerance and attacks on people’s fundamental rights to freedom of speech, expression, assembly and movement the right to practice any occupation, the right to preserve one’s culture and even the right to life and liberty in Jharkhand and also the rest of the country.

…The protestors at Raj Bhavan demanded an apology from members and supporters of BJP for not letting Jean Drèze finish his speech and also from Prabhat Khabar for allowing the disruption of the address by one of its guests. They also demanded an apology from the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Raghubar Das for the issuing of the communal advertisement by his government. All newspapers that printed the advertisement must also accept their complicity in stoking communal tensions in Jharkhand. Lastly and most importantly, the state and central government needs to take criminal action without further delay against all the people who have incited violence or murdered people.”

  • alok asthana

    Don’t waste time seeking apologies from BJP – they’re into the phase of ‘nanga nach’ ( naked dance). Once you’re naked, you are no longer scared of any more embarrassment. File cases against them. Throw them out.

  • kujur bachchan

    Stung and rattled by Jean Drèze’s honest and reasoned critique of BJP’s divisive agenda behind the blatantly untrue and misleading ad campaign, these worthies of the Jharkhand government removed their masks of civility and amiability, and acted truly like the goons, who are hired to shout-down any speaker who dares to dissent with them.

    It is an honour for the past and present students of the Ranchi University and also for the people of Jharkhand to have Jean Drèze in their midst. I hope the students of Ranchi University and the civil society of Jharkhand will not let Jean Drèze down, and remain steadfast in their support to him. Jharkhand needs more such committed and honest persons, in order to help expose the ‘Den of Corruption and Venality’ – commonly known as Jharkhand Administration.