NEW DELHI: Activists on Monday expressed anguish over the death of Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Stan Swamy and demanded that the government fix accountability for this "custodial murder".
Swamy, 84, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, died at a Mumbai hospital on Monday afternoon.
He was waiting for interim bail on medical grounds in the case.
The Elgar Parishad case is related to alleged inflammatory speeches made by some activists at a conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which, the police claim, triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.
The police have claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.
Kavita Krishnan, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) politburo, tweeted, "It is not Father Stan we mourn for...We condole the death of the judicial process, Constitution in India today".
"It's over. Modi and 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," she said in another tweet.
Social activist Harsh Mander called Swamy's death a tragedy for the nation.
"Devoted to selfless defence of Adivasi rights. Gentle, brave, even from prison he grieved not for himself but injustice to poor prisoners. A cruel state jailed him to silence his voice, the judiciary did nothing to secure his freedom. A tragedy for the nation," he said.
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Anti-graft crusader and RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj termed Swamy's death an "institutional murder".
"With UAPA, the process is the punishment. The death of 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy should be recognised for what it is - institutional murder. RIP Father Stan," she tweeted.
Rights activist Shabnam Hashmi spoke in the same vein.
"#StanSwamy passes away. Fr. Stan Swamy passes away as undertrial in state custody under fake charges under UAPA, NIA, sedition. This is not death, this is custodial murder. Government has to be held accountable," she tweeted.
Karwan-e-Mohabbat, a people's campaign devoted to equality, freedom and justice said, "Father Stan Swamy has died. He is now free. The state that inflicted cruelties on this brave, noble soul has murder on its hands."
The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) also expressed profound grief and anguish over Swamy's death.
"A Jesuit priest and activist who worked tirelessly for the marginalised, the 'adivasis', in remote areas of Jharkhand, Stan was jailed on trumped-up charges. Eighty-four-year-old Stan Swamy had, apart from other ailments, been afflicted with Parkinson's, a disabling condition," the NPRD said in a statement.
"The ruthless and brutal manner in which he was treated is evident," it said.
The NPRD alleged that Swamy was denied treatment and medication.
It said a campaign had to be launched to ensure that he was provided with something as basic as a sipper, which was so essential for him for the intake of liquids, it added.
Tribal Army, a rights group, said the only crime Swamy committed was that he stood with the oppressed tribal people of the country.