A prominent social worker whose father was an air chief marshal has been slapped a notice of externment from Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh for alleged obstruction of development work and spreading “fear” among officials.
Madhuri Krishnaswamy, who frequently clashed with bureaucrats and the political leadership in the 15 years she has worked among tribals, has been barred from entering Barwani and five adjoining districts under the notice, usually issued against criminal elements.
Barwani collector Shriman Shukla said the notice — issued under the Madhya Pradesh Security Act, 1990 — had been slapped on the basis of old criminal cases. “She has also been provided with details that she had asked for along with a 15-day window to reply to the notice,” Shukla said.
All the cases listed against Madhuri, daughter of former Air Chief Marshal Srinivasapuram Krishnaswamy, go back beyond 2010.
Shukla said Madhuri’s activities with the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) were obstructing the administration’s development work and creating “an atmosphere of fear among government functionaries”.
NGOs, activists and tribal organisations reacted sharply to the move to equate Madhuri’s style of protests with criminal activities.
Section 5 of the 1990 act empowers a district administration to remove a person whose acts could cause alarm, danger or harm.
In a statement, Aruna Roy, a member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, said the St. Stephen’s alumnae and her JADS were spreading awareness among tribals and demanding proper implementation of the rural job scheme (NREGA).
“As a direct result of their efforts, between October to December 2006, Adivasi NREGA workers in Barwani district were paid unemployment allowances, totalling Rs 4,75,386. This has been done through a series of democratic modes such as awareness campaigns, public meetings and peaceful agitations, such as dharnas. The consequent exposure of corruption by government functionaries has resulted in this severe backlash against the Sangathan and its member, Madhuri Krishnaswamy,” Roy said.