If not for him, I’d be languishing in jail: Social activist Damodar Turi remembers Stan Swamy

Writer remembers how the priest reached out when Jharkhand government came after him

Published: 06th July 2021 08:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th July 2021 11:56 AM   |  A+A-

Father Stan Swamy

Late Father Stan Swamy (Photo | PTI)

As I was actively participating in anti-government movements to oppose anti-people policies and activities of the Jharkhand government, I was arrested twice by the state police, once in 2008 and the second time in 2018, on fake charges. Had Stan Swamy not come to my rescue, I would have still been languishing in jail. It is just because of his determination to battle against the system that I am not only moving freely, but was also acquitted in one of those cases in 2018. Stan Swamy was instrumental in my release from jail as he fought pro-actively both inside and outside the court.

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

In the first case, when statewide protests were organised and the matter was highlighted by the media, then the investigating officers went on the backfoot. Because of intense public glare they could not twist the case the way they wanted to and I was acquitted by the court. In the second case, I was not being treated well in the jail but statewide protests led by Swamy were organised following which I was ensured basic facilities in jail. On both occasions, statewide protests were organised at Governor House in Ranchi and all the district headquarters. Rallies were organised and dharnas were also staged across the state.

READ EDITORIAL | Stan Swamy and the murder of justice

Firstly, I was charged with a fake case under UAPA in 2008. A fake charge of working for the Maoist organisation was leveled against me despite the fact that no document or evidence related to Maoist connection was recovered from me. In 2018, I was arrested on charges of handling the banned trade union called Mazdoor Sangathan Samiti even though I had never been a member of thatorganisation. I only used to go there to deliver speech, but I was termed a handler for the organisation and arrested at midnight. All of a sudden, the organisation was banned by the state government and some of us were arrested along with the workers of the organisation.

In the first case, I was lodged in Ranchi jail while the second time I was imprisoned at Giridih jail. The way the British killed Birsa Munda in jail by poisoning him, 84-year old Father Stan Swamy, who had nothing to do with Elgar Parishad case, has been killed in the same way. This is nothing but a cold-blooded murder by this system. Considering his old age, he could have been put under house arrest as he was not going anywhere. Despite the fact that he cooperated well with the National Investigation Aency, he was arrested and was not granted bail even after becoming critically ill.

(The writer is a social activist and was jailed several times on charges of links with Maoists)


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