The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) strongly protests the arrest of Madhuri Behen in district Barwani of Madhya Pradesh. It is a sad state of democracy to put her behind bars for fighting injustice and bad state of maternal health system.
Madhuri Behen from Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan was arrested on 16th May, 2013 afternoon in a case that was filed against her and others as a result of protests for forcing a pregnant woman i.e. Baniya Bai who was in a critical condition and was in labour to deliver in full public view just outside the Menimata PHC.
The case was filed against Madhuri, Baniya Bai's Husband, Basant and others by the compounder and was registered as FIR No 93 of 2008. Madhuri and others had received a court notice to appear in the Court of Shri D.P. Singh Sewach, JMFC on 16th May. Madhuri appeared and was informed that the police had filed a closure report (khatma) but had not stated clear reasons for the closure and therefore the report was refused. Madhuri was arrested from the court complex. She has been remanded in JC till 30th May 2013 and will be placed in Khargone women's Jail.
This case of Baniya Bai is also part of the writ petition filed in the High Court Of MP, Indore Bench in which the status of maternal health services was raised in light of 29 maternal deaths recorded in a span of 9 months in Barwani DH.
The NAPM demanded immediate release of Madhuri Behen and others in the matter and asked the State government to look into the matter of Maternal Health and health system in large as a serious concern.
According to NAPM, a ST resident of of village Sukhpuri, Barwani. Baniya Bai was taken to the Menimata PHC for delivery by her father-in-law, Dalsingh, on the night of 11 November 2008. They made the 15 km journey on a bullock cart because no other transport was available. After admitting and taking a cursory look at her, the compounder, V.K. Chauhan, and nurse, Nirmala, left the PHC and went home.
The next morning, Baniya was forced by the compounder and the nurse to leave the hospital. Her family was asked for Rs. 100, which they did not have and so Dalsing immediately went to get money from their village. Despite attempts to re-admit Baniya Bai to the PHC, the compounder flatly refused saying that they could not manage the delivery so she would have to go to Barwani DH or Silawad Hospital.
Baniya’s relatives tried to get the Menimata hospital compounder, nurse and staff to call for the Janani Express, but were unsuccessful. The family was told to make its own arrangements to refer to a higher hospital. When forced to leave the PHC Baniya Bai crawled out of the labour room, on to the road outside the PHC, where she lay down in severe pain.
Eventually, Baniya’s mother-in-law, Suvali Bai, went looking for a Dai in the marketplace and found Jambai Nana, who had come to market collect her wages. After hearing about Baniya Bai's situation, Jambai agreed to assist her, and at around 12PM, conducted a normal delivery on the road outside the hospital. The father-in-law gave his dhoti (loin cloth) to provide cover for Baniya Bai during delivery. Following this incident, a crowd gathered outside the health centre.
Madhuri was passing by, inquired about what was happening. She then called up the Silawad CHC, the Silawad Police Station as well as health officials from Barwani. Upon being informed, senior officials from the health department ordered for a vehicle to be sent immediately to the Menimata PHC. After being denied emergency obstetric care and being forced to deliver in public view, Baniya Bai's and her child were taken to the Silawad Hospital for admission. The compounder was suspended after repeated demands for action from JADS, but was soon reinstated.