RANCHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested 83-year-old Jharkhand-based tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest, Father Stan Swamy, in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case late in the evening on Thursday.
"The NIA team arrived at Bagaicha social centre, where Swamy lives, at around 8 PM, confiscated his phone and later arrested him," his lawyer Peter Martin said. The NIA team did not have an arrest warrant with them, Martin further added.
Anticipating this move, Swamy had recorded a video two days back where he had denied all the allegations related to the Bhima Koregaon case. "The nature of the present NIA investigation has nothing to do with the Bhima Koregaon case for which I have been booked as a suspected accused, and consequently raided twice in the last two years, But it is being done to somehow establish that me and Bagaicha are personally linked to the extremist leftist forces."
According to Swami, he was summoned by the NIA in Mumbai but he refused to appear in the wake of his old age in the middle of a pandemic. He, however, was ready to cooperate with the investigating agency if they wanted to quiz him through video conferencing.
Father Stan Swamy, originally from Kerala, is a veteran tribal rights activist, who has spent close to five decades working for the forest rights of the state's tribal community. He has been quite vocal against police atrocities on tribal communities and the government's failure to implement the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution in the state.
He along with 19 others was also accused of inciting tension on the 'Pathalgadi' issue on Facebook and was booked for sedition. The case was withdrawn by the Hemant Soren government after it came to power in December last year.
Tracing the link of the Koregaon violence to Jharkhand, the Maharashtra cops have raided Swami's Ranchi residence twice and interrogated him for over 15 hours in the last two years.