The mother of Indian national Rubeena Buruhanudeen will travel to the Maldives where she will attempt to visit her daughter, who has been held in pre-trial detention for four and a half years.
Shafeeqa Beevi has asked Maldivian authorities permission to visit her 30-year-old daughter, who faces charges of infanticide and attempted suicide after the death of her ten-month-old son in 2010.
Despite local lawyers taking up Rubeena’s case in 2012, it has remained stalled, with the last scheduled hearing in December delayed as the court requested to hear from the doctor who initially examined the child’s body.
Her lawyers are seeking an additional hearing to claim their client’s diminished responsibility.
Meanwhile, a campaign to secure her release is gaining momentum in her home state of Kerala, with over 8,000 people having signed the ‘Save Rubeena’ petition, calling for the intervention of authorities in the case.
The petition is to be delivered to the Indian High Commission in Maldives, and the Chief minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy – who has already met with Rubeena’s parents, promising action.
India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj was handed the petition on Sunday (February 8), explained Anupama Mili, a journalist for the New Indian Express who is helping with the campaign.
“There is already an online campaign started on Facebook ‘Save Rubeena’. This is followed by the miraculous escape of another Indian, Jayachandran Mokeri, recently from Maldives,” explained Anupama.
Jayachandran had been imprisoned for 8 months on what he claimed were false child abuse charges, before being released on December 25 after the case became publicised through Indian media.
“His friends and relatives started the group ‘Save Jayachandran Mokeri’ in Facebook and started campaigning for him in all levels including media, bureaucracy, different political parties and even religious and business leaders,” said Anupama.
The same group is now campaigning for justice in a number of cases involving Keralites incarcerated in the Maldives, converting the Jayachandran Facebook page for the ‘Save Rubeena’ campaign.
“After [Jayachandran’s] return, he told me about many other Keralites with more or less similar plight,” she added. “I gave the report in my paper, and hit headlines here.”
Jayachandran has claimed he came into contact with around 21 Indian nationals while in Dhoonidhoo detention centre, though statistics provided to Minivan News by the Maldives Correctional Services show only seven Indian nationals – all male – being held in the country.
The New Indian Express has today reported that Kerala’s social justice minister Dr M.K. Muneer will seek the support of the External Affairs Ministry to keep better records and to offer assistance to Keralites detained abroad.
The case has also sparked debate in India over the practice of poor girls from Kerala being sold off to foreign nationals in return for money, with Rubeena’s mother saying her new husband had cleared the family’s crippling debts as part of the arrangement. He has since divorced her during her incarceration.
In an interview republished in Minivan News yesterday, Shafeeqa recalled the deterioration of her daughter’s marriage, and the confusion surrounding her grandson’s death.
Sources close to Rubeena’s case have learned that she confessed to the killing before having received any legal assistance, and has since said she was heavily medicated at the time of her child’s death, with only a vague recollection of events.
Shafeeqa also explained the renewed hope the campaign had given her after four years without progress.
“It was after the release of Jayachandran master, I renewed my hope. He had met Rubeena in jail and she had given him my number.”
“I had completely lost my hope. But now, things are apparently changing. My hope has been restored. Many people who have never seen me or are even connected to me are trying to bring my daughter out of that prison.”
The Kerala campaigners have also taken up the cause of Indian National Nabeesa Beevi, who had been left stranded in the Maldives after death of her husband last year.
Nabeesa – left partially paralysed, reportedly after complications during a caesarean birth – was returned to India yesterday (January 9) after social justice minister Muneer informed the Indian High Commission in Malé that Kerala state would be willing to pay for her care.
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