• Somya Maan

Can a caged bird still sing? | Stan Swamy

Stan Swamy, the activist alleged to be conspiring Naxal with multiple rejected bails ignited news channels all over the country with his death. Allegations with NIA-claimed evidence are yet to be proven facts, meanwhile, questions of Human Rights violations are being raised.

Based on your reading of the article; you may decide whether Stan Swamy was an ACTIVIST or a MAOIST -or even both!

Who was he?

Stanislaus Lourdoswamy famously known as Father Stan Swamy was a Jesuit priest and a tribal rights activist. He suffered from Parkinson's disease and was admitted to a private hospital where he died of a cardiac arrest on July 5th 2021. In the course of his life, he has helped numerous tribal communities by working on various issues of land, forest and labour rights.

He had questioned the non-implementation of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.

In late 90s he worked for JOHAR in Jharkhand preceding the foundation of Bagaicha by him in 2006 to conduct research to improve tribal lives. In more recent years he worked on the subject of the arrest of young Adivasis.

Recently Swamy was awarded the Mukundan C. Menon award 2020 for human rights.

However, he made it to the headlines when he was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Why was an 84-year-old activist arrested? Why was his bail rejected over and over again? What was he accused of?

Let’s find out

Case in news

Swamy’s case got highlighted even more after his recent passing away but what was the case? Swamy was implicated in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence, he was accused of being a Maoist "sympathiser" while he claimed that he was not in Pune during the said period.

The Bhima Koregaon/Elgar Parishad Case

In Elgar Parishad was a coalition of over 250 Dalit and other NGO who came together on 31st December 2017, to mark the 200th anniversary of the victory of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon. On January 1, 2018, violent clashes broke out between two caste groups -- Mahars and Marathas. Several people who had gathered at the Jaystambh were injured and one killed.

It was alleged that the Committee founded by him was "to fight for the release of around 3,000 men and women who have been labelled as Maoists and imprisoned", was a front for Maoist fundraising. The Jesuits denied the Maoist allegation. He was arrested by the NIA on 8 October 2020, and charged under the UAPA, in which ‘jail is the rule and bail is the exception’ as a prima facie case. The NIA received evidence in incriminating documents and propaganda emails from him. The email malware being planted or not is yet to be taken to court.

He wrote from Taloja Jail,

"Many of such poor undertrials unaware of the charges have been put on them, have not seen their charge sheet and just remain in prison for years without any legal or other assistance But we will still sing in chorus. A caged bird can still sing."

"He was too frail"

In October 2020, Swamy filed for bail on the grounds of him being a victim of Parkinson's disease. His bail pleas were rejected multiple times and a plea for a sipper and straw was delayed.

On May 21, when he appeared for his bail plea before Bombay HC, his lawyer recalled “how he was too frail, and found difficult to hear, think and respond to the questions”

A Human Violates violation allegation was famously made by various organisations and opposition politicians and Swamy himself stated “Taloja jail is why I can no longer walk or write by myself. My decoration is more powerful than the tablets they give me”

In response to his demise, the MEA responded that Fr Swamy's bail pleas were rejected due to the nature of the charges against him. Authorities in India act against violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights. For his ailing health, Bombay HC allowed his medical treatment at a private hospital on May 28, where he was being closely monitored.

While the case itself is yet to be resolved, Stan Swamy’s death has again brought the internal workings of the judicial system to the fore and has left people questioning its efficiency.


SOURCES: The Indian Express, The Quint, The Hindu

~ Somya Maan