Remember Fr Swamy for only right reasons

Stanislaus Lourduswamy, a boy born in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, became in due course a Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist.

Published: 01st August 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st July 2021 02:12 PM   |  A+A-

Illustration of Father Stan Swamy

Illustration of Father Stan Swamy

Stanislaus Lourduswamy, a boy born in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, became in due course a Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist. Popularly known as Stan Swamy, he worked for several decades in Jharkhand but died in Holy Family Hospital, Mumbai, due to post-Covid pulmonary complications as a prisoner at the age of 84. He fully deserved ‘respect for his services to the society’ and admiration for defending Adivasis’ land and forest rights, and ‘being a man of God’. 

Regrettably, he chose to be on the wrong side of law. People of his level of commitment to social causes generally get carried away and confuse their legitimate rights for illegality. He fell into this trap when he got associated with activities of outlawed CPI(Maoist), became convener of its front organisation—Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee—and consorted with members of Elgar Parishad who fuelled unrest during the Bhima Koregaon violence in Maharashtra on January1, 2018, to eventually ‘overpower the government’ and ‘overthrow democracy of the nation’. His parting assertion gave away his intent; ‘I am not a silent spectator but part of the game and ready to pay the price whatever be it.’ Consequently, he was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which deals with terrorist and secessionist threats to sovereignty and integrity of India. 

The social media chatterers, Left-liberals, some hyper-sensitive judges and intellectual pretenders promptly denounced the criminal justice system for ‘losing its humanity’, called his death ‘a murder by state’, demanded scrapping of the UAPA and holding the NIA, NHRC, BJP, judiciary and the home ministry jointly culpable for his homicide. Ten opposition leaders, led by Sonia Gandhi, echoed similar sentiments in their petition to the President. Their anguish, however, was sheer drama. Father never complained of ‘ill treatment’ by the police and judge DE Kothalikar refused his bail twice for he rightly believed that law must apply equally to all, regardless of their stature, age, medical condition and public service they might have rendered. 

Ironically, NIA was created and UAPA was made harsher through amendments in 2004 and 2008 by the same Opposition leaders who met the President. In 2019, NDA expanded its ambit further. The law undoubtedly is draconian and makes it impossible for abettors, facilitators, advocates and perpetrators of terror acts to obtain bail. Since 2004, over 4,800 cases have been registered under this Act, mostly in Manipur, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Kerala but conviction rate is just 2.3 percent. Still, no government will scrap UAPA or disband NIA so long as terrorists and their assists which abound in our nation threaten our ‘collective interests’. Father Swamy should have realised that his zeal was driving him into a war zone from where his redemption was going to be only messy.       

Amar Bhushan

Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing

Stan Swamy


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp