BeyondHeadlines News Desk
On 16 May 2013, human rights defender and maternal health activist Ms Madhuri Ramakrishnasway was arrested outside the court in Barwani in Madhya Pradesh, in a case brought against her after a protest. Madhuri Ramakrishnasway is a leader of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), a tribal and Dalit Rights Collective which has been working for fourteen years in Madhya Pradesh. Advocacy organisations often come together under the banner of JADS to hold peaceful protests in order to raise awareness of the extremelypoor health care for women in pregnancy and labour. Sit-in protests are now taking place outside police stations in the district in solidarity with the human rights defender.
It is reported that Madhuri Ramakrishnasway was arrested in a case brought against her because she had protested against the forcing of Ms Baniya Bai to give birth outside Menimata PHC hospital in 2008. The human rights defender had received notice to appear in the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court presided over by Mr D.P. Singh Sewach on the above date and was subsequently arrested there. Madhuri Ramakrishnasway will be remanded in custody until 30 May 2013 in Khargone women’s jail. The human rights defender is reportedly being held on charges of deterring a public servant from his duty and rioting with a deadly weapon.
On the night of 11 November 2008, Baniya Bai was brought by her father-in-law to Menimata PHC when she went into labour. The next morning, Baniya Bai was asked for 100 Indian rupees and since she could not provide this, was forced to leave the hospital. She then gave birth in public view on the road outside the hospital. The human rights defender witnessed this event and took Baniya Bai to another hospital where she received treatment. Madhuri Ramakrishnasway then launched a protest against the incident, and the compounder of Menimata PHC, Mr Vijay Kumar, filed a complaint against her.
Front Line Defenders believes that Madhuri Ramakrishnasway is being held solely on account of her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights, particularly maternal rights, in Madhya Pradesh.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in India to:
Immediately and unconditionally release Madhuri Ramakrishnasway and drop all charges against her as it is believed they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights;
Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.