Written by 2:14 pm In the News

Activist Fr Stan Swamy dies

Political leaders and activists have called for accountability over his death.

Dr. Stanislaus D’Souza SJ of the Jesuit Provincial of India announced Fr Stan’s death, “On behalf of the Jesuits of India, especially the Jesuits of Jamshedpur Jesuit Province, I express my deepest condolences to the family members, friends, lawyers, well-wishers and all those who stood by Stan and prayed for him during this moment of trial and suffering.”

Fr Stan spent over five decades working with tribal communities in Jharkhand. Over the last few months, he approached the court several times to flag poor health facilities and neglect by prison officials and to ensue basic medical aid, health tests and hygiene for both himself and the other accused. He also pointed out lax social distancing norms during the Covid pandemic.

In May, Fr Stan told the Bombay High Court that his health had declined consistently since being jailed and said that if the current situation continued, he “would die soon”. Last week, Fr Stan had filed a fresh medical bail plea in the Bombay High Court challenging the stringent conditions for bail to an accused charged under UAPA.

UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, shared his video along with a message: “The news from India today is devastating. Human Rights Defender and Jesuit priest Fr Stan Swamy has died in custody, nine months after his arrest on false charges of terrorism. Jailing HRDs (Human Rights Defenders) is inexcusable.”

“Heartfelt condolences on the passing of Father Stan Swamy. He deserved justice and humaneness,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted: “Sad to learn of Fr #StanSwamy‘s passing. A humanitarian & man of God whom our government could not treat with humanity. Deeply saddened as an Indian. RIP”. Mr Tharoor was among those who opposed Fr Stan’s arrest and had tweeted last year: “Arresting an 83 year old social worker who has brought help to the helpless for decades is a national disgrace. It’s also eroding our country’s standing as a liberal democracy in the eyes of the world. #WeStandWithStanSwamy”.

“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!” Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in his tweet.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted: “A humble tribute to Father Stan Swamy. How unfortunate that a person who served the poor and tribals throughout his life and became the voice of human rights, he was denied justice and human rights even in the hour of death.”

Congress MP Kapil Sibal said in a tweet that others were languishing in jail too. “…Lawyers, Academics, Social Activists….raise their voices for the voiceless They too are now “voiceless” The State calls them “ terrorists”,” he tweeted. Congress MP Jairam Ramesh tweeted, “Who in the apparatus of the Indian state will be held responsible for this tragedy? Make no mistake – it is the Indian state that killed Fr. Stan Swamy, who was such a passionate crusader for social justice.”

Kavita Krishnan, member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) shared in a tweet: “It’s over. Modi & 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”.

“Shocked to learn about the demise of Father Stan Swamy. He dedicated his life working for tribal rights. I had strongly opposed his arrest and incarceration. The Union Government should be answerable for absolute apathy and non-provision of timely medical services, leading to his death,” Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said.

“Who in the apparatus of the Indian state will be held responsible for this tragedy? Make no mistake – it is the Indian state that killed Fr. Stan Swamy, who was such a passionate crusader for social justice,” Jairam Ramesh said.

“Deeply pained & 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,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said.

“This is nothing less than murder by the State of one of the gentlest & kindest men I have known. Unfortunately our judicial system is also complicit in this,” lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan said.

“Father Stan Swamy, we as a country killed you. My head hangs in shame. Rest in peace Father, hero, champion of human rights,” journalist Rana Ayyub tweeted.

“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!” Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

“Shocked to learn about the demise of Father Stan Swamy. He dedicated his life working for tribal rights. I had strongly opposed his arrest and incarceration. The Union Government should be answerable for absolute apathy and non-provision of timely medical services, leading to his death,” Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said.

CPI (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted that he was “deeply pained and outraged” at the death of Fr. Stan. “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”.

Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said, “This is nothing less than murder by the State of one of the gentlest & kindest men I have known. Unfortunately our judicial system is also complicit in this”.

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