RANCHI/MUMBAI: Activists and people close to Swamy, who worked tirelessly for the rights of tribals and other underprivileged people in Jharkhand for more than three decades, termed his death as “institutional murder”.
“This is an institutional murder. He was arrested on fake charges and murdered. Despite the fact that no charges were proved against him, he was kept in jail for several months,” said Aloka Kujoor, who was associated with Swamy for over 20 years.
The Jesuit priest was the oldest among the 16 accused persons arrested in the Elgar-Parishad case and possibly the oldest in India to be charged under the UAPA.
“For decades he was a voice of the oppressed in Jharkhand.We hold the NIA and the central government wholly responsible and strongly condemn their role in Stan’s death, which has once again exposed the fascist face of the BJP government at the Centre,” said a statement issued by Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), a network of several people’s organisations and activists.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and a host of political leaders and activists expressed shock and anguish at Swamy’s death and lashed out at the central government.
“I had strongly opposed his arrest and incarceration. The Union Government should be answerable for absolute apathy and non-provision of timely medical services, leading to his death,” tweeted Soren.
Swamy and other activists arrested in the Elgar Parshad case, including 82-year-old activist Varavara Rao, have repeatedly complained of inadequate health facilities in jail.
Swamy, a native of Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, was born in 1937 and was best known for his work with tribal people and the fight for their rights in Jharkhand. He collaborated with people’s movements working against unjust displacements, human rights violations and illegal land acquisitions.
He was also instrumental in filing PILs against tribal, SC and other marginalised youths being implicated in UAPA and criminal cases.