Monday, Jan 24, 2022
Outlook.com

A Father Imprisoned

NIA's arrest of 84-year-old Adivasi activist Stan Swamy has re-opened the debate around witch-hunt by the government in the Bhima-Koregaon case

A Father Imprisoned
Jesuit and activist -

Late evening on October 8, NIA sleuths knocked on the door of Father Stan Swamy. Their unannounced arrival at his Ranchi home would not have shocked the 84-year-old Adivasi rights activist and Jesuit priest. In July and August too, he had been interrogated for 15 hours about alleged links with the outlawed CPI(Maoist) and role in the commemoration of the 1818 Battle of Bhima-­Koregaon on January 1, 2018, which led to violent incidents. On August 28, 2018, a police team from Pune had barged into his residence at 6 am and seized his laptop and mobile phone. “The nature of the present NIA investigation has nothing to do about the Bhima-Koregaon case, in which I have been booked as a ‘suspected-­accused’,” Swamy said in a video message and statement he had prepared on October 6. “It had everything to do to somehow establish (i) that I am personally linked to extremist leftist forces and (ii) that through me, Bagaicha [the social centre where he lives and works], is also related to some Maoists. I denied both these allegations in the strongest terms.”

He had also prepared a note titled ‘What is the crime I am supposed to have committed’, in which he detailed the various causes he had fought for. These include raising questions over “non-implementation of the 5th Schedule of the Constitution”, asking why the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act mandating rights of tribals for self-governance through Gram Sabhas was being ignored, and why the Supreme Court’s Samatha judgment of 1997 granting Adivasis control over “excavation of minerals in their lands and to help develop themselves economically” was not implemented in letter and spirit by successive governments.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement