Digvijaya condemns attack on Jean Dreze

New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has condemned the attack on development economist Jean Dreze, who was allegedly forced to leave Bastar by a group of demonstrators who called him and his partner Bela Bhatia “Naxalites”.

Singh tweeted: “I condemn the attack on Jean Dreze whom I have known for more than 15 years. He understands socio economic issues of India better than most of us.”

Belgian-born Dreze and his partner Bela Bhatia were allegedly forced to leave Bastar two days ago after a group demonstrated outside Bhatia’s home, calling her “Naxali dalaal” (agent of Naxalites).

Bhatia, a social scientist, used to live in Parpa village on the outskirts of Jagdalpur.

Dreze, in a letter published by CatchNews, described how the protests against him and his partner made him feel like a foreigner for the first time in four decades.

He wrote about how he and Bhatia were being harassed by “some people” who had distributed leaflets accusing them of being Naxalites trying to “tear the country apart”.

“Anyone who thinks that Bela and I are Naxalites is seriously out of touch with reality… I do not support Naxalite violence any more than I support state violence,” he wrote.

He claimed the charges of Naxalism were “just a pretext”.

“The real reason for Bela’s harassment is that, a few weeks ago, she helped some tribal women in Bijapur district to lodge a complaint of rape and sexual violence against members of the security forces,” he wrote.

Many other people have also voiced concern after Dreze was forced to leave Bastar.

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