Women Health Activist Madhuri Ben released, joins anti-dam stir


Gwalior, June 1, 2013

Pheroze L. Vincent, The Hindu

Human rights activist Madhuri Krishnaswamy, better known as Madhuri Ben, was released from Khargone Women’s Sub Jail on Thursday after she agreed to get bail in a 2008 case of rioting and assaulting a public servant.

In 2008, Madhuri Ben — who heads the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan (JADS) — alerted the health and police officials in Barwani district after a tribal woman gave birth to a child on the road after being evicted from a primary health centre. Pharmacist of the PHC Vijay Chouhan filed the case against her. The case was closed by the police, only to be reopened by the court, which sent her to a fortnight of judicial custody on May 16 after she refused to seek bail.

The JADS is involved in an agitation of Barela tribals in Khargone district against the Kharak Reservoir Project. On May 25, police arrested 27 tribal people for rioting, trespassing and obstructing the government officials from performing their duty.

Ms. Ben filed a review petition with the Barwani district judge on grounds that a long time had lapsed after the complaint. She said she had refused bail as a form of satyagraha.

“After I saw innocent Adivasis being sent to jail, I realised it is important for me to be available to participate in their struggle. Choukhand village [centre of the agitation] is one of the few tribal villages that are better off economically. This project threatens to take away their prosperity in one stroke,” she told The Hindu .

After her release she headed straight to Choukhand to join the dharna. She said she would continue to “shame the State government” by protests in Khargone and Bhopal.

 

#India -Police action traumatised anti-dam tribals in MP #Stateoppression #humanrights


Chaukhand village, Khargone (MP), May 30, 2013

Pheroze L. Vincent

  • Villagers staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone district in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M. Faruqui
    The Hindu Villagers staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone district in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M. Faruqui
  • Villagers including children staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone disstrict in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M. Faruqui.
    The Hindu Villagers including children staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone disstrict in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M. Faruqui.
  • Villagers staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone disstrict in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M.Faruqui
    The Hindu Villagers staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone disstrict in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M.Faruqui

Sisters Kalibai and Phulbai are in a state of shock after they were caned by the police on May 25. Aged 8 and 6, they rushed towards their father Tudpiabai Gangaram on seeing him being caned by the police during a protest against the Kharak Reservoir being built beside their village.

“I said don’t hit my father. My father asked us to run away. Before we could run the policeman hit us also,” said Kali, struggling to talk with her swollen mouth. Phul asked her to open her mouth. “Her tooth broke as the cane hit her mouth,” she said pointing at a missing tooth.

Chaukhand has been resisting the construction of the dam, a minor irrigation project in Khargone and Barwani districts, roughly 350 km south west of Bhopal. Inhabited by the Barela tribe, the village grows wheat, jowar, soya, groundnuts and other traditional millets, beside River Kharak. Most residents do not have documents for the land they cultivate. The reservoir will submerge parts of seven villages.

Work on the project, which had started less than a year ago, has stopped for the last two months due to protests by locals. There are daily dharnas under the village peepul tree demanding a comprehensive rehabilitation policy, before the dam comes up.

“We had started work only on the 55 hectares for which claims were settled at roughly Rs. 3 lakhs per acre according to the collector’s guidelines. The problem is with those who don’t have documents. The principal secretary has decided to give them a relief amount of Rs. 4 lakhs per hectare. On Saturday we went to talk with the villagers when the situation deteriorated,” said Executive Engineer SS Raghuvanshi of the Water Resources Department.

Villagers narrated a different story. “At 10.30 a.m. we were on dharna as usual when four police vans came with around 150 male and female officers. The Sub Divisional Magistrate Jitendra Singh Chouhan was in front. They formed a line. We went to the SDM and asked when we will get compensation. He said that everyone with documents will get compensation but first we must clear the area,” said Shivram Kanase an activist of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) which works in the area.

The villagers asked them to pay the compensation before starting work. Police then forcibly evicted them from the site. “They chased me and snatched my child from my arms and threw him on the ground. That policeman’s breathe smelt of liquor. He beat me with his cane,” said Samranabai, a local resident.

Collector Navneet Kothari is on leave and Superintendent of Police R. P. Singh refused to answer queries. He said, “You do your job. If I say there was no lathi charge, will you believe me?”

Another lady named Banchibai Ningole, with an infant at her breast, was arrested from her house, said villagers. Totally seven men and twenty women are in judicial custody. They were denied bail on Wednesday. The police have told the court that they are on the look out for others and that if released, the 27 would rejoin the protests.

“I asked the SDM why his men were beating women and children. He said that we were stopping government work and we would be locked up. Inspector T. C. Usre caught my hand and hit me. The women constables didn’t do anything. Maybe they felt bad for us,” said Gyanibai Jadav.

SDM Chouhan denied the occurrence of a lathi charge. “Villagers attacked the workers at the site. I told them that we won’t tolerate violence. We can convey their objections to the government. Police only removed them from the machines. There was no lathi charge,” he told The Hindu.

Many men and women showed the cane scars on their backs and legs. Four children with bruises claimed they had either been hit or had fallen while running from the police. The counsel for the arrested, C. K. Pathak said that he wasn’t pressing charges on the police as he first wants his clients to be released.

Bail was denied on a day when CM Shivraj Chauhan visited the district to conduct a mass marriage. On May 28 the government announced a Rs. 212 crore package for oustees of the Omkareshwar Dam, which will be given on condition that they vacate their homes by July 15. The evictees in neighbouring Khandwa had gained international prominence when they went on jal satyagraha by indefinitely immersing sitting in the River Narmada last year.

Here in Chaukhand, an uneasy peace prevails with villagers unsure of whose lands will be occupied and how much money they will get. Many fields have already been filled with rocks by the construction contractors. They are also under pressure from panchayat leaders not to obstruct the construction. Both the dharna continues and construction work has stopped.

Villager Sakaram accompanied this reporter on the way out of the village, which is connected to Dhulkot Panchayat by a long un-metallled road filled with stones. Ambulances don’t come here, he said, and many women have complicated pregnancies due to the journey on bullock cart to the hospital.

On Thurday a Barwani court granted bail to JADS leader Madhuri Krishnaswamy, who was arrested a fortnight back for a 2008 case of rioting. Ms. Krishnaswamy took up the case of a tribal woman giving birth on the street after being evicted from a primary health centre. The suspended pharmacist had filed the case on her.

“Last time we all voted for BJP as they promised us land pattas. This time we are going to meet (Congress state president) Kantilal Bhuria ji when he visits Khargone of June 4,” Mr. Sakaram added. He goes to public meetings of both the Congress and the BJP. “One day they will listen to us,” he explained.

 

#India – 5000 people on the road to Protest Arrest of Women Health Activist


Massive rally by JADS in Badwani, MP to protest against unjust arrest of Madhuri

madhuriprotest1
As is now widely known, the leading organizer of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, Madhuri was arrested
on 16th May 2013 at Barwani district court. This arrest was made in connection with the protest done by
the Sangathan related to the case of an adivasi woman Baniya bai, who was forced to deliver on the
roadside near Menimata PHC, because she was denied care in the PHC.
In response to this unjust arrest, nearly 5000 people mobilized by JADS, including large numbers of
women, demonstrated on 21st May 2013 in front of the District collector’s office at Barwani. Key
demands of the protesters were release of Madhuriben along with dismissal of all false cases against
various activists, major improvement in public health services, and eliminating large scale corruption in
implementation of the NREGA programme in the district. Major slogans included “Amu akkha kon chhe
– Madhuri chhe, Madhuri chhe” (‘Who are all of us – all of us are Madhuri’), “Aspatal mein loot band
karo” (Stop exploiting patients in Hospitals) and Nyay nahi to jail do” (‘Either give us justice or give us
jail’). The demonstrators from various far-flung areas of the district had gathered from 1 pm to 9.30 pm
in front of Collector’s office, but the collector refused to address the demonstrators or to meet their
representatives.
In this situation of total non-responsiveness of the District administration, JADS activists finally pasted a
notice on the police barricade, addressed to the Chief Minister, giving the warning that if the government
does not release Madhuriben by 30th of May, the Sangathan would mobilise an even larger rally at the
Collector’s office.

madhuriprotest

protest2

 

Tribals protest over Madhuri being sent to Jail for speaking for the ‘right of pregnant women #Vaw


PLEASE SIGN PETITION FOR HER RELEASE HERE

http://petitions.halabol.com/2013/05/17/release-maternal-health-activist-madhuri-immediately

May 18, 2013, 03.55AM IST TNN

INDORE: Tribals from different villages of Barwani are on an indefinite dharna in front of police stations in the district protesting judicial remand of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) leader Madhuri. Different social organizations from the state have come under the banner of Jan Sangharsh Morcha to protest against the development.

Alok Agrawal of Jan Sangarsh Morcha said the incident of sending Madhuri to judicial custody has exposed the ‘Janani Suraksha Scheme’ of Madhya Pradesh government. He said an activist is sent to jail for speaking for the ‘right of pregnant women.’

Har Singh of JADS said, tribals are sitting in front of different police stations of the district including Pati, Silawad, Pansemal and Niwali. He said the protests will continue till fake cases against Madhuri were not revoked and guilty are punished.

Madhuri had refused bail in a five-year-old case registered against her and four other persons at Menimata under Silawad police stations. She was sent to Khargone jail on judicial custody on Thursday.

Social organizations claimed that the incident has once again highlighted the apathetic condition of health services and schemes like rural health mission in tribal areas. A case under sections of 353, 332, 147, 148 and 342 of IPC was registered against Madhuri in 2008 for raising question mark on health service and system.

On November 12, 2008 a pregnant tribal women Baniya Bai of Shukpuri village was forced out of Public Health Service (PHC) of Menimata. Despite repeated request she was not taken in and Baniya Bai delivered her child on the road in front of PHC. Madhuri of JADS was passing by and immediately summoned an ambulance and took the tribal woman to the hospital. Thereafter, she launched a protest against the PHC.

Irked over a compounder of PHC Menimata Vijay Kumar filed a complain under a non- bailable offence against the social activist Madhuri.

 

Gandhian activist arrested in MP, adivasis up in arms


Bhopal, May 17, 2013

 

Staff Reporter

 
A file picture of Gandhian activist Madhuri Krishnaswami who was arrested for fighting against the injustice meted out to adviasis in Madhya Pradesh.

The Hindu A file picture of Gandhian activist Madhuri Krishnaswami who was arrested for fighting against the injustice meted out to adviasis in Madhya Pradesh.
 
 

Madhuri Krishnaswamy, a leader of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) – which works for health and labour rights in the south-western Madhya Pradesh – was sent to judicial custody for a fortnight, on Thursday. Ms. Krishnaswamy, popularly called Madhuri Ben, and four others were summoned by Judicial Magistrate First Class D. P. Singh Sewach in Barwani on Thursday for a 2008 case of rioting and assaulting a public servant.

The police, in fact, had filed a closure report for lack of evidence, but the court took cognizance of the testimony of plaintiff Vijay Chouhan and summoned the respondents. Only Madhuri Ben appeared and was sent to Khargone Women’s Prison after she refused to seek bail. Two of the four others are already on bail. The others are expected to be arrested soon.

In 2008, Madhuri had alerted health and police officials after a tribal woman was forced to deliver her child on the road, after been evicted from a primary health centre by the compounder Mr. Chouhan. He also filed the case against the JADS, was suspended only to be reinstated later.

JADS activists picketed at six police stations in Barwani district on Friday. Union rural development minister was also in the district for the Congress’ Parivartan Yatra. “We told him that arresting the person who exposed the government is injustice. He said he spoke to the chief secretary. We also told him that we are only getting Rs. 22 to 26 as MNREGA wages (instead of the stipulated Rs. 100). He did not say anything,” Harsing Jamre of the JADS told The Hindu.

District superintendent of police R. C. Burra told this reporter, “We had to arrest her as the court ordered it… He (Mr. Jairam Ramesh) asked about her and we gave him all the details of the case.”

Ms. Krishnaswamy is scheduled to appear before the Chief Judicial Magistrate on May 30.

She was served a show-cause notice of externment from the district administration, last year, which accused her of preventing officials from doing their duties. This came after she protested against the death of a tribal woman after 27 hours of labour without medical help. Mr. Ramesh had then too written to chief secretary R. Parasuram to intervene.

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