Stan Swamy breathes his last fighting for bail, people close to him cry institutional murder

The Bombay High Court was due to hear Father Stan's bail application on Monday when he passed away. The late priest's lawyers had sought bail citing his poor health.

Published: 05th July 2021 06:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th July 2021 06:55 PM   |  A+A-

Social activist and preacher Father Stan Swamy (File Photo | PTI)

Social activist and preacher Father Stan Swamy (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

RANCHI: Father Stan Swamy, 84, who worked tirelessly for the rights of adivasis and other underprivileged people in Jharkhand for more than three decades, breathed his last at around 1:30 pm in Mumbai. The Bombay High Court learnt of the death from the 84-year-old's lawyer, in court to fight for bail on medical grounds for his client.

Father Stan had been languishing in jail since October 8 last year when the NIA had arrested him -- the country's oldest political prisoner -- in a case related to the violence that erupted at an event to mark 100 years of the Bhima-Koregaon battle on January 1 in 2018, leaving one dead and several others injured.

People close to Swamy termed his death institutional murder, after he had been arrested on fake charges.

"This is an institutional murder as he was forcefully arrested and murdered after the leveling of fake charges. Despite the fact that no charges were proved against him, Father Stan was kept in jail for several months," said Aloka Kujoor, who was associated with the late priest for more than 20 years. 

He was deliberately arrested with an intention to kill by keeping him in jail for so long, she added.

According to Kujoor, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), a network of several people's organisations and activists, had been demanding the immediate release of the undertrial activist lodged at Taloja jail in Mumbai, citing Father Stan's old age, but no heed had been paid to their demands.

The JJM released a statement saying Father Stan has been a crusader for people's rights. 

For decades, he was a voice of the oppressed in Jharkhand. He played a leading role in the formation and the functioning of the Mahasabha. His principles have been a source of inspiration for us and will continue to remain so. Stan lives on in our struggles and memories,” said the statement. 

His death, according to JJM, was the result of murder by the state.

"We hold the NIA and the central government wholly responsible and strongly condemn their role in Stan’s death, which once again exposes the fascist face of the BJP government at the Centre," the statement said.

As mentioned earlier, the Bombay High Court was due to hear Father Stan's bail application on Monday when he passed away. The late priest's lawyers had sought bail citing his poor health. It was Father Stan's counsel Mihir Desai who informed Justice SS Shinde and Justice NJ Jamadar of his client's passing away.

Father Stan and the other accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case had repeatedly complained of inadequate health facilities in Taloja Jail near Mumbai, where they had been kept during the trial.

After his health deteriorated at the jail, he was admitted to the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai on May 30 following the directions of the Bombay High Court. 

On Sunday, his condition deteriorated further and he was put on a ventilator but he died at around 1:30 pm on Monday.

Father Stan had tested positive for COVID-19 on May 30. He suffered lower back pain and bilateral hearing loss among other ailments.

Father Stan was suffering from pulmonary infection, post COVID-19 complications in the lungs and pneumonia when he passed away. He also had Parkinson's disease.

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