Grim reaper, not state, sets activist Stan Swamy free at 84

However, Stan Swamy's lawyers moved the court on July 5 seeking urgent hearing after his health deteriorated and he was put on ventilator.
Father Stan Swamy. (Photo | Free Stan Swamy Twitter)
Father Stan Swamy. (Photo | Free Stan Swamy Twitter)

RANCHI/MUMBAI: Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, arrested in connection with the Elgar Parishad case, passed away at a Mumbai hospital on Monday shortly before the Bombay High Court took up his plea for bail. He was 84. 

​Swamy had been languishing in Mumbai’s Taloja Jail ever since the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on October 8 last year. 

The High Court had on May 28 told state prison authorities to shift him to the private Holy Family Hospital in Bandra.

On July 3, the HC slated his bail plea for hearing on July 6. However, his lawyers moved the court on Monday seeking urgent hearing after his health deteriorated and he was put on ventilator. 

Earlier on March 23, special judge D E Kothalikar had refused bail even on health grounds saying the “collective interest of the community would outweigh Swamy’s right to personal liberty” given the seriousness of the allegations made against Swamy. 

“As such the old age and or alleged sickness of the applicant would not go in his favour,” he said.Prima facie Swamy had hatched a “serious conspiracy” with members of a banned Maoist outfit to create unrest and to overthrow the government, the court had ruled, while refusing bail. 

On Monday, when a bench comprising justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar took up the bail plea around 2.30 pm, counsel Mihir Desai urged the court to hear Dr Ian D’souza, director of the Holy Family Hospital. He broke the news of Swamy’s demise at 1.24 pm. Swamy had suffered cardiac arrest on Saturday and count not be revived, the doctor said, adding, “Cause of death is definitely pulmonary infection and Parkinson’s disease among others.” 

A shocked bench said, “With all humility at our command, we are sorry to know that Stan Swamy passed away. We have no words to express.”

Health check:

Sudha Bharadwaj

She is 58, has multiple ailments. Her family members say her health deteriorated during her stay in jail, and that she has developed arthritis and a heart condition

Anand Teltumbde

At 72, he has pre-existing ailments, his family has pointed out, adding inadequate facilities in prison further aggravated his condition and left him exposed to Covid

Hany Babu

At 54, Babu developed acute eye infection in Taloja jail. He now has little vision in the eye due to swelling. He is currently at Breach Candy at his own expense after testing Covid+

Gautam Navlakha

He is 70. Taloja prison officials had last year refused to accept a parcel containing new spectacles for him after the old one was stolen in jail

Surendra Gadling

53-year-old, he has co-morbidities like hypertension, diabetes and asthma

Varavara Rao

The octogenarian got interim bail in March after two years in jail. He was denied even basic healthcare facilities during incarceration

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The New Indian Express