Sunday, Nov 27, 2022

‘Travesty Of Justice’: Activists, Politicians Outrage Over Stan Swamy’s Death

Activist Stan Swamy, who was arrested in connection with the Elgar Parishad case, passed away on Monday

Stan Swamy

Tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, who was arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence, passed away on Monday. The 84-year-old Jesuit priest was put on ventilator after his health deteriorated on Sunday.

He was admitted to Holy Family Hospital in suburban Bandra on May 29 after he was shifted from Taloja prison in Mumbai.

Swamy was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in October 2020 and had been in jail since then.

Swamy, a cancer patient who also suffered from the Parkison’s disease, was arrested from his home in Ranchi on October 8, 2020. Despite protestations that he had never been to Bhima Koregaon, he was taken to Mumbai where he was produced before a court and remanded to judicial custody.

He is possibly the oldest person to be charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), officials had then said.

NIA officials had said investigations established he was actively involved with the CPI (Maoist).The NIA also alleged that he was in contact with "conspirators" to further the group's activities.

Swamy was awaiting bail while he passed away.

Numerous activists and politicians cutting across party lines mourned Swamy’s death.

Social activist Harsh Mander called Swamy's death a tragedy for the nation.

"Devoted to selfless defence of Adivasi rights. Gentle, brave, even from prison he grieved not for himself but injustice to poor prisoners. A cruel state jailed him to silence his voice, the judiciary did nothing to secure his freedom. A tragedy for the nation," he said.

Anti-graft crusader and RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj termed Swamy's death an "institutional murder".

"With UAPA, the process is the punishment. The death of 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy should be recognised for what it is - institutional murder. RIP Father Stan," she tweeted.

Kavita Krishnan, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) politburo, tweeted, "It is not Father Stan we mourn for... We condole the death of the judicial process, Constitution in India today".

"It's over. Modi and Shah have accomplished the custodial killing of the gentle Jesuit social worker Fr Stan Swamy, who spent his life serving the oppressed. I hope the judges who denied him bail never get to sleep at night: they have blood on their hands," she said in another tweet.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed Swamy’s death as a “travesty of justice”.

"Deeply saddened by the passing of Fr.Stan Swamy. Unjustifiable that a man who fought all through his life for our society's most downtrodden had to die in custody. Such travesty of justice should have no place in our democracy. Heartfelt condolences!" Vijayan tweeted.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also expressed his condolences. "Heartfelt condolences on the passing of Father Stan Swamy. He deserved justice and humaneness," he wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti expressed shock over the 84-year-old activist’s death. “Deeply disturbed by the passing away of 84 year old tribal activist Stan Swamy. A ruthless & callous government that deprived him of dignity even while he was alive has blood on its hands. Absolutely shocked & appalled. May his soul rest in peace,” Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said he was pained and outraged by Swamy’s demise. "Deeply pained and outraged at the death of Father Stan Swamy. A jesuit priest & social activist he tirelessly helped the marginalised. Draconian UAPA custody, inhuman treatment since October 2020 with no charge established. Accountability must be fixed for this murder in custody," tweeted Yechury.

Meanwhile, the CPI(M) Tamil Nadu state committee on Monday announced that it would hold state-wide demonstrations on July 8 to demand action against those “responsible” for Swamy’s death.

(With PTI inputs)