Mumbai/Ranchi: One of India’s finest Human Rights activists, Father Stan Swamy died today at 1.30 pm in Mumbai during treatment. The 84-year-old activist’s bail hearing was scheduled at 2 pm at Bombay High Court, but he passed away just ahead of it.
Stan, a priest of the Jesuit community who used to work among tribals, especially in Jharkhand, was arrested in the Elgar Parishad case in October 2020. Since then, like most other 15 accused in the case, his trial had also not begun. He was in Taloja jail, where his health started deteriorating, he got infected with the Covid-19 virus and after much hue and cry from civil society and others, he was shifted to Family Hospital on May 28.
On July 3, his condition worsened and he was put on a ventilator.
Yesterday only, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, which has been raising the bail issue of the activist, issued a statement and had demanded Stan’s immediate bail and better medical treatment.
Today, when Stan died, Mahasabha termed it ‘murder by the state’. “We hold the NIA and the central government wholly responsible and strongly condemn their role in Stan’s death, which is again exposes the fascist face of the BJP government at the center,” read a statement.
When the veteran activist was arrested by the National Investigative Agency (NIA), Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren had also expressed concern and demanded his release.
After the news of Stan’s demise, Hemant Soren tweeted, “Shocked to learn about the demise of Father Stan Swamy. He dedicated his life working for tribal rights. I had strongly opposed his arrest & incarceration. The Union Govt should be answerable for absolute apathy & non provision of timely medical services, leading to his death (sic).”
Father Felix Raj, the Vice-Chancellor of St Xavier University, who had led a protest against the arrest in Kolkata reacted to eNewsroom, “It is a great loss for the Jesuit community as well to the tribals of India for whom he worked. He always stood for the poor.”
When asked who he thinks is responsible for the death of the octogenarian activist, the vice-chancellor did not want to comment on that, but added, “We had appealed to the court to fast track the case, but it did not happen.”
eNewsroom had also an exclusive video, in which the old man requested NIA officials not to take him to Mumbai, and keep him in Ranchi jail, but the officials forced Stan to come with him.