10 Opposition leaders write to President over ‘inhuman treatment’ of activist Stan Swamy

Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case, breathed his last in a Mumbai hospital on Monday.

Opposition leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP’s Sharad Pawar and TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, have written to President Ram Nath Kovind urging him “to direct the Government to act against those responsible for foisting false cases” on the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case accused Father Stan Swamy, who died on Monday.

The 84-year-old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, who was arrested in the case on October 8, died on Monday in a private hospital where he was shifted on directions of the Bombay High Court in May after his health began deteriorating.

Expressing deep anguish and outrage over the “inhuman treatment” of activist Stan Swamy, 10 opposition leaders, in the letter, said: “We are urging your immediate intervention as the President of India to direct ‘your government’ to act against those responsible for foisting false cases on him, his continued detention in jail and inhuman treatment. They must be held accountable.”

The opposition leaders said the Jesuit priest, who championed the rights and causes of the adivasis of Jharkhand, was jailed last October on “trumped up charges under the draconian UAPA and was sought to be linked with the Bhima Koregaon case.”

They further stated that the Swamy was denied treatment for his various ailments including debilitating Parkinson’s, adding that even a sipper to drink liquids was made available to him in jail only after a nationwide protest.

The letter went on to say that even the numerous appeals made to shift the Jesuit priest from the crowded Tajola Jail amidst a rising number of Covid-19 cases went unheeded. It added that his appeals for bail too, were rejected despite his medical condition.

Stan Swamy’s lawyers had moved the Bombay High Court on Monday morning, seeking an urgent hearing on his medical bail plea, after his health deteriorated on Sunday and he was put on ventilator support.

On July 3, the HC had said that Swamy can stay in Hospital till July 6 when it will hear his bail plea.

The High Court had, on May 28, directed state prison authorities to shift Swamy from Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai to the private Holy Family Hospital for 15 days, asking Swamy to bear the cost of his treatment. Swamy was shifted to the hospital ICU the same night and put on oxygen support. The HC continued Swamy’s stay in Bandra Hospital from time to time.

Meanwhile, a statement by family members and friends of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case has called the death of Father Stan Swamy “an institutional murder” and said that they fear the health and lives of others lodged in jail.

Swamy was arrested from Ranchi on October 8 last year in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case and was lodged in Taloja central jail. He tested positive for Covid-19 on May 30.

The Indian Express

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